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Nick Dice, the owner of Medical MJ Supply, knows what can happen when bugs and mildew attack marijuana plants.

The Fort Collins, Colo., shop owner said he has watched as other businesses have fallen apart because of the havoc that pests and disease can cause. That is why previously, in his grow room, cultivators used mildew and pesticide treatments on the plants roughly every three to four days. Now, according to Dice, they focus on cleanliness:

“We have people who that’s their only job is to look for any infections or anything that could cause potential damage to the crop.”

The dedication to keep hazards at bay has yielded Dice a vibrant, healthy crop that is already in its third or fourth week. His grow room is filled with knee-high marijuana plants, which he estimates to be valued at up to $180,000. He attributes his success to using products to keep the plants clean.

Dice is not the only grower who has used chemicals to protect a cannabis crop. In states where either medical or recreational marijuana is legal, many growers are using pesticides. After all, a damaged crop will take a toll on a company’s bottom line. However, the federal government, which regulates which chemicals a farmer can use, has not addressed the situation with marijuana plants.

npr photo

Experts say that other agribusinesses have standards for the fungicides and pesticides that are safe to use. For example, people who cultivate tobacco have a list of pesticides that have been approved by the government. Marijuana farmers do not have any, as the federal government has stayed away from the topic.

Agriculture officials in Colorado did recently put out a list of what they considered appropriate pesticides for cannabis. Other states, such as Illinois, Nevada and Washington have followed suit.

However, the industry is still largely without direction in the area. Therefore, many growers are simply going on what works or what they deem is appropriate, according to Whitney Cranshaw, an entomologist at Colorado State University. Cranshaw spoke on these issues:

“Sometimes they’ve used some things that are inappropriate, sometimes unsafe.”

The lack of regulations has sparked some safety concerns for both what is happening to the plant and the effects it could have on the consumer. American Cannabis Company plant expert Brett Eaton noted that because the marijuana industry is new, there simply are not policies in place to regulate pesticides. Without these rules, Eaton said that harmful pesticides could be sprayed onto plants, even right before they are harvested.

Denver officials cited safety concerns and put tens of thousands of cannabis plants on hold until an investigation is complete.

As the marijuana industry continues to grow, so will the need for determining which chemicals are safe and appropriate to use and which are not. Experts say that science, policy and growers self-regulating will lead to a solution.

photo credit: npr

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