In late 2012, the people of Colorado voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana (commonly referred to as pot or weed). As a result, Colorado became the first state in America to permit the opening of weed dispensaries where smokers can purchase pot in a store like any other retail establishment. In fact, Colorado is the first location in the entire world where weed is regulated by the state government from the harvesting of marijuana seeds to the sale of pot in public dispensaries. A part of regulating this popular enterprise entails abiding by specific protocols for how weed is grown in order to ensure public safely. At the top of the list is making sure weed is not grown using harmful fertilizers or pesticides.
However, just shy of six (6) months after Denver officials started cracking-down on the use of unapproved marijuana pesticides, an investigation conducted by the Denver Post revealed that harmful, potentially deadly pesticides were still being used to grow marijuana plants that were eventually sold to the public. The banned pesticides included myclobutanil, imidacloprid and avermectin. This discovery initiated a massive recall of weed and ingestible products made with marijuana (edibles). It was Denver's ninth marijuana recall in just ten (10) weeks! Some of the other recalls were sparked not only by the use of dangerous pesticides, but because certain batches of weed contained over six (6) times the amount of pesticides permitted to be used on any food product by the national Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and upwards of 1,800 times the amount permitted by Denver officials. These officials are not only concerned about the use of banned pesticides and the extremely high amount that is used, but they are worried about the long-term, cumulative effects of smoking or ingesting marijuana that is laden with pesticides – whether the pesticide(s) are approved or not. In the wake of the Denver recalls, Governor Hickenlooper issued an Executive Order stating that pot grown with forbidden pesticides poses a major threat to public health.
Although Colorado law requires the owners of weed dispensaries to test regularly for pesticide residue(s), the testing has come to a virtual halt because only one (1) lab in the entire state is equipped to conduct this analysis. To make matters worse, the national Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is tasked with regulating the use of pesticides nationwide, has not put forth any regulations or guidelines for marijuana pesticides because federal law still makes weed illegal.
While Colorado legislators are working to resolve the problem, consumers of marijuana should be extremely cautious when sparking a joint or eating that brownie.
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