The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is rejecting California’s request to approve pesticides for use on marijuana plants.
In May, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation approved four products to combat insects, mildew and mold on cannabis plants. Federal law authorizes state regulators to register additional uses of federally registered pesticide products to meet a special local needs.
The four products in question have already been approved by the federal government for use on other crops, but EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is moving to block the registrations for new uses on cannabis.
“Under federal law, cultivation (along with sale and use) of cannabis is generally unlawful as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act,” Pruitt wrote in a letter to California regulators.
The EPA can block a new application for previously approved pesticides if they find that the new request is not for a “similar use pattern” compared to what the feds have already signed off on.
“The EPA finds that the general illegality of cannabis cultivation makes pesticide use on cannabis a fundamentally different use pattern,” Pruitt wrote.
The letter, dated June 22, was first reported on Thursday by Bloomberg News.
Pruitt said that the agency has “not identified any significant risks” associated with use of the products in question. “The EPA would not have been inclined to disapprove these registrations were cultivation and sale of marijuana generally lawful in the United States,” he wrote.
Pruitt, a former Oklahoma attorney general, is a longtime marijuana opponent. In his prior job, he tried to rewrite the ballot title for a medical cannabis initiative that activists collected enough signatures to qualify by making it seem as if the measure would legalize marijuana across the board.
The advocates sued, and the state Supreme Court agreed, upholding their original ballot title. But as a result of delays caused by the case, the measure wasn’t able to appear on the state’s 2016 general election ballot and will now appear before voters during the 2018 midterm election.
In the pesticide dispute, California regulators have ten days from June 22 to request a consultation with EPA or withdraw their application before Pruitt’s rejection becomes final.
The applications for the products to be used on marijuana are linked below: