Marijuana growers need pesticides too!

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The disconnect on the issue of marijuana between the federal government and state governments is causing an expected issue for growers. In states where marijuana is legal, like Oregon and Colorado, growers are running into a common problem in agriculture: pests.

When growing any other crop, farmers turn to pesticides (like neonicotinoids) to deal with infestations. However, pesticide use on crops has to be approved by the government. These states are slowly working on drafting regulations, but usually the federal government makes the determination on which pesticides can be used on which crops. However, the federal government still considers marijuana an illicit drug, so they won t be approving pesticides for use on marijuana in these states anytime soon.

Due to the lack of regulations, there have been several controversies already in terms of pesticide use on marijuana. In Colorado, health inspectors accused 8 farms of using unauthorized pesticides on their crops; while some were vindicated, two others voluntarily destroyed their fields. A newspaper in Oregon found pesticides in excess of legal limits on several crops. In Massachusetts, the initiation of growing legal medicinal marijuana has been stalled because laws there require extensive testing for pesticide residues on crops, but the state lacks the facilities to perform the tests.

At some point, pesticides will need to be approved for marijuana growing or the burgeoning, legal marijuana industry will collapse. Large scale agriculture cannot be sustained without effective ways to manage pests and weeds. One possibility that may some day be in the pipeline is creating genetically engineered strains of marijuana that can resist pests or herbicides, but that idea might be too much of a buzzkill to the powerful and unduly influential Big Organic lobby.