The Foundation of Cannabis Unified Standards (FOCUS) is working to create order among the chaos caused by a cannabis regulatory contradiction. FOCUS, which is an independent, third-party, not-for-profit organization, is in the process of developing cannabis-specific standards for everything from cultivation and extraction to packaging and retail.
FOCUS Founder and Executive Chair Lezli Engelking says the overall goal is to help growers implement these standards, which were developed by industry professionals who reached a complete consensus on each approved product and reflect what is safe to use on other agricultural and plant products, by providing guidance.
“My first recommendation for anyone in the industry is always to make sure they are in compliance with state regulations,” Engelking says, noting that FOCUS isn’t an enforcement agency. “We come out and look at the business and find gaps. Then we try to direct them to a better way to do things, helping them implement the standards and giving guidance about how to improve as the regulations change.”
As FOCUS and the state agencies continue to work on getting growers on the same page, cannabis cultivators are left to manage pests using the products and information they have. That’s why experts agree integrated pest management is everyone’s best bet for success. This means implementing cleaning and inspection protocols to avoid bringing unwanted pests into the greenhouse in the first place.
Matthew Mills, President and Chief Operation Officer of Med-X, says he recommends cleaning the entire greenhouse top to bottom in between crops. Having a separate room for intake and inspection also ensures plants are clean before they enter the grow room. Because there’s been major issues with spider mites on cannabis clones, Mills says this is an essential step.
“IPM is not only the way of the future for pest control, it is the only way the cannabis industry will be able to exist,” he says. “These guys come in from the black market and are still operating in that way. The do-it-yourselfer in commercial situations is going to change.”
Suzanne Wainwright-Evans of Buglady Consuluting agrees, saying that biocontrols are not a rescue treatment and that growers need to use proper sanitation procedures, buy from quality suppliers, and implement preventative treatments. Because there’s a lot of oft-repeated misinformation, she says she recommends working with someone who knows what they’re doing.
“Find out their background and what makes them qualified to advise you,” she says. “There’s some crazy information out there with bad stuff being recommended on some websites and forums. You’ve got to know who you’re buying from.”