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article imageCNN tests show banned pesticides still being used by pot growers

By Karen Graham     Nov 25, 2015 in Health
Denver - Pesticides illegal to use on marijuana plants in Colorado are being found in some recreational and medical pot products sold to the public. Because testing of marijuana for pesticides is not mandatory in the state, CNN did its own testing.
It has been nearly two years since Colorado voted to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational and medical use. However, pot users still have little information on what they are ingesting or if it may be harmful.
CNN's latest investigation comes on the heels of a similar investigation done by the Denver Post in September this year. In both investigative reports, samples of marijuana products were tested for illegal and harmful pesticide residues.
As far as any official oversight on the regulating of marijuana growers, the state is able to track a pot product from the seeds in the packet to the final sale in a licensed shop where the product is sold. And a new state law implemented this year also requires that all marijuana products be labeled, describing all pesticides, contaminants, fungicides, and herbicides used during any part of the production process.
In 2013, before marijuana was legalized, Colorado passed a law mandating that marijuana businesses test for pesticide residues, but that law has never been enforced because there are only a few state-certified labs approved to do the testing. Because consumers cannot have their own pot purchases tested, CNN asked two businesses to help out by having some of their products tested.
Gobi Analytical is the only lab in Denver that tests marijuana for pesticides. Testing for pesticides is not cheap. Specialized equipment, such as a liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry machine, has to be used to identify the products in a sample.
Peter Perrone, who runs Gobi Analytical, told the Denver Post in September that since the lab opened in April, the majority of the 1,000-plus samples he had tested failed. "Maybe 10 percent of those" were clean of pesticides, Perrone said.
CNN's two shops provided a total of six samples, including flowers, edibles, and concentrates. Perrone tested all the products, with five coming back free of pesticides and one concentrate testing positive for a neurotoxin called imidacloprid. (The Denver Post tests found myclobutanil, imidacloprid, and avermectin).
The Colorado Department of Agriculture has said imidacloprid cannot be used on marijuana. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, being a federal agency that does not recognize marijuana as being legal in Colorado, allows the use of the chemical on some crops, but at very low levels, such as 1.0 part per million on avocados and 0.5 parts per million on apples.
CNN's pot concentrate had imidacloprid levels of 100 parts per million. Perrone told CNN, "In this case, I would immediately recall that sample and destroy that entire batch." The shop owner whose concentrate tested so high was shocked. He immediately began pulling the product from his shelves, reporting the test results to the state.
Based on the testing done by CNN, state officials began an investigation that resulted in 2,362 pot products, including 23 different types of pot concentrates, being recalled. All of the products were made from marijuana grown and distributed by Tru Cannabis.
Tru Cannabis, along with another grower, was cited in October for the use of illegal pesticides when testing found three chemicals in the samples being tested. Looking back on stories about previous recalls of marijuana products in the state this past year, it is fairly obvious there is still a big problem with regulating the industry.
The EPA does not have oversight on marijuana because it is classified as an illegal Schedule 1 drug by the federal government, even though it is a crop. As was reported in October in Digital Journal, Colorado lawmakers never considered this little problem when they approved the sale of recreational pot on January 1, 2014.
Because the state agriculture department was using EPA regulations on pesticide use, they have been going to the marijuana growers to find out what it is they are using. This action was to help them in making regulations for what pesticide was to be allowed.
CNN reports that Ro Silva of the Colorado Department of Revenue, the state agency that oversees the marijuana industry, said in an email the state's Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED), as well as other state agencies "will continue to develop this portion of mandatory testing by working collaboratively to develop regulations and to certify licensed retail marijuana testing facilities for pesticide testing." She added, "There is not a timeline right now for the MED to test for pesticides."
More about colorado pot growers, banned pesticides, no oversight, no safety standards, Legalized marijuana
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