As Greenhouse Grower reported earlier this year, the emergence of cannabis production from the shadows of the black market has presented a unique challenge: how to safely and effectively protect cannabis crops from pests and diseases. While growers in the ornamental and agricultural sectors have been eliminating tricky pests since the beginning, cannabis growers must now find solutions that fit within various state regulations without the overarching guidance of the federal government and its agencies.
For one example of this, look no further than Washington State. In May, the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s (WSDA) Pesticide Management Division outlined its “Criteria for Pesticides Used for the Production of Marijuana in Washington.”
The document “represents the opinion of the Washington State Department of Agriculture regarding the criteria for pesticides that may be used for the production of marijuana (Cannabis) in Washington,” according to the WSDA. “This opinion may be rescinded or superseded at any time by the WSDA.”
It specifically notes that:
• EPA and WSDA registration is required prior to distribution of the pesticide
• Prior to planting marijuana outdoors (such as a field), use of a pesticide (e.g., broad spectrum herbicide, soil fumigant) is allowed if the food crop to be planted following application is not specified on the label
• Prior to planting marijuana in an enclosed facility (such as a greenhouse), use of a pesticide (e.g., disinfectant, sanitizer) is allowed to control microorganisms on surfaces (such as benches, floors, pallets, pots, skids)
The documents grants use of a pesticide on marijuana if:
• The active ingredient is exempt from the requirements of a tolerance on all food crops (e.g., auxins, biopesticides [most active ingredients], copper, cytokinins, gibberellins, petroleum oil, phosphorous acid, pyrethrins, soap, sulfur)
• The label has directions for use on unspecified food crops, home gardens, or herbs (outdoor or enclosed), including unspecified food crops or herbs grown as bedding plants (Marijuana will not be specifically listed as a crop on the pesticide label)
The state has also compiled a list of pesticides that fit the above criteria for use on marijuana. The list is not an endorsement or a recommendation regarding the use of any specific pesticide for the production of marijuana in Washington. The list has been provided to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board and the Washington State Department of Health, and will be updated by WSDA as needed. A searchable list of these pesticides is available from the Washington State University Pesticide Information Center Online database.
Is your state considering cannabis legalization? If so, you can expect this same type of criteria and recommendations to be developed.