Oregon pesticides for cannabis. More rules.
Oregon pesticides for cannabis. More rules.

We write a lot on this blog about rules promulgated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (for the recreational market) and by the Oregon Health Authority (mostly for the medical program). There are, however, other state agencies involved with Oregon cannabis, like the Department of Water Resources, which assesses water rights; the Department of Revenue, which deals with sales tax; and the Department of Agriculture (ODA), which oversees scales, food safety and pesticides.

On Monday, ODA took its turn on stage, releasing a list of more than 250 pesticides that OMMP growers and recreational producers may use on their crops. Note that this is the second critical list released by ODA. The first arrived in November in conjunction with the Oregon Health Authority, and it involved concentration standards for 59 pesticides and solvents. We wrote about that here.

There is some overlap between the two lists, which means that many of the 250 pesticides approved for use are only approved in certain concentrations, per OAR 333-0070-0210, Table 1 (effective January 1). Like farmers of other crops, pot cultivators who wish to use any of the overlapping pesticides will need to learn to time their application of those pesticides so that traceability falls below applicable thresholds at the time of harvest.

As stated on the ODA’s marijuana page, with respect to pesticide use, the pesticide label is the law. Perhaps for this reason ODA advises that “the intent of the list is to assist growers in distinguishing those pesticide products whose labels do not legally prohibit use on cannabis from those that clearly do not allow use. The list is not an endorsement or recommendation to use these products in the production of cannabis in Oregon.”

Because cannabis is illegal at the federal level, the task of developing the pesticide list was a heavy lift for ODA. Normally, a state would rely on the label of a particular pesticide itself, which might say, for example, that a pesticide is approved for use on oranges but not alfalfa. Here, regulators had to wade through over 12,000 pesticides registered in Oregon to see which contained labels broad enough to include cannabis (without actually mentioning cannabis). At the end of they day, only 250 remained.

The ODA list will be updated quarterly, and growers and producers should stay abreast of these changes so as to avoid potentially devastating business headaches we have written about, like pot safety lawsuits and product recalls. Ultimately, clean and safe cannabis will benefit marijuana industry players and consumers alike.

  • Andrew Black

    For advocates of sustainable agriculture, the list of pesticides that are allowed for use on cannabis in OR (and also WA and CO) is encouraging. Since only pesticides that are exempt from EPA Tolerance are allowed, many of the most dangerous pesticides have been prohibited for use on cannabis. For example, synthetic pesticides like abamectin, myclobutanil, and bifentrhin have pesticide residue limits set by the EPA and have not been included on the State list. However, the list of pesticides allowed on cannabis set by the state department of agriculture still includes more than a dozen pesticides
    with active ingredients that are not allowed in organic agriculture. Will the scrutiny on pesticides in cannabis production spur folks to look more closely at how their food is grown?