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Common Reasons to Use Pesticides in Cannabis & How To Do So Safely

Like any agriculture industry or cultivation practice – the use of pesticides serves a specific role. But when the final…

Like any agriculture industry or cultivation practice – the use of pesticides serves a specific role. But when the final product is being inhaled or ingested by a final end consumer, pesticides’ function gets a bit tricky. In cannabis, while IPM or integrated pest management is a crucial part of any cultivation process, harmful pesticides can be detrimental to the crop quality and health of any purchasing customer.

Whether growing indoors or outdoors and no matter how sterile your environment may be – pest problems can still arise. Even more, pesticide problems can occur without you even knowing. That’s why it’s important to understand the common pesticide issues in cannabis, especially for screening purposes, and improved processes overall. So, let’s cover the common reasons, issues, and concerns for pesticide use in cannabis and how to tackle the topic safely.

Pesticide concerns in cannabis

Spider or broad mites, powdery mildew, aphids, oh my! Several pest and fungal issues can arise when growing cannabis that typically requires treatment or the use of pesticides/insecticides. Unfortunately, most marijuana pesticides that would be strong enough to combat these types of infestations are too strong for eventual inhalation by purchasing consumers.

As the buyer becomes more sophisticated, concerns with the use of cannabis pesticides are on the rise alongside commercial growth. And as commercialized growth gains even more momentum, many more problems will arise for the grower.

Most infestations, like mites and mildew, can be detrimental to a crop. Not only are they somewhat hard to detect, but they can quickly take over the entire garden with no looking back. So, if mites or mildew are suspected – no matter the stage of growth, it becomes do-or-die time for growers. Especially considering, the plants will literally die or lose sufficient quality if not addressed immediately.

The larger the operation, the more apt operators are to make processes efficient. This also means they may cut down on safety or quality to produce a high-yielding cash crop in the end. But now, in regulated markets, cannabis cultivators somewhat have their hands tied. While there are pesticides that can effectively kill these harmful pathogens or pests – unfortunately, they’re unsafe for consumption and can’t be used at certain levels of maturity. These are where difficult decisions are often made to risk using a harmful ingredient and failing compliance or taking a loss.

But growers should keep in mind that direct application isn’t the only way pesticides can creep into crops. Outside of making the conscious decision to apply pesticides, cannabis can become affected by:

  • Pesticides: being used on mother plants for clones.
    • Certain pesticides wash off with rain or water, but some pesticides like Myclobutanil can infiltrate the plant’s internal plant fluids and stay in plant tissues for years.
  • Pesticides in the soil or infiltrating from neighboring farms.
    • When growing outdoors in a highly-populated agriculture area, pesticides can transfer via the air or soil from food or cannabis crops.

Compliance testing for pesticides

Now that the industry is aware of harmful pesticides, cannabis pesticide testing is required for consumer safety. However, the language can be a little confusing. While California-approved pesticide lists say there are ‘no approved pesticides’ for cannabis, certain pesticides can pass testing if they meet certain requirements. Confused? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Let’s talk about restricted pesticides to explain better.

For environmental and food consumption, California does have a list of banned pesticides. All cannabis products must be free of these pesticides, too. In addition, the following pesticides are also banned from use in California per their restricted materials list or federally Restricted Use Pesticides. Most of these products, however, will have a label that states ‘restricted use pesticide.’ This group of pesticides includes:

  • Abamectin
  • Bromadiolone
  • Difethialone
  • Bifenthrin
  • Cyfluthrin
  • Fipronil
  • Brodifacoum
  • Difenacoum
  • Naled

Best practices for testing cannabis for pesticides

Because California cannabis pesticide requirements are somewhat complicated, one crucial best practice to follow for testing cannabis for pesticides is trusting your cannabis testing facility. Even though passing required compliance testing for pesticides is the primary goal, you’ll want to ensure that your lab provides reliable and accurate results (hey, this matters just as much as potency!) due to the harm pesticides can cause. While your product might test as ‘pesticide free’ and be flagged as good to hit the shelves. When your cannabis testing results aren’t of superior quality, it could come back to bite you if any consumer is to get ill or sick from your passing product.

Another best practice for testing cannabis for pesticides is to cultivate in a clean, controlled, indoor environment and not use them at all. Plus, a variety of organic cannabis ‘pesticides’ or alternative options like predatory pests can be just as effective. We’ll have a blog covering organic, effective, and pass-worthy IPM solutions for growers in an upcoming blog, so stay tuned and subscribe to our newsletter to get all the LabPlex updates delivered directly.

Cannabis and pesticides – safety first!

At LabPlex, we understand how important your brand’s product quality and reputation are for safe consumption and customer retention. That’s why our state-of-the-art cannabis testing facility is equipped to produce reliable results for compliance or quality assurance/R&D testing. The LabPlex team prides itself on cannabis testing that’s affordable, efficient, and accurate to elevate your company’s standing in the industry. So, try the LabPlex difference today, and schedule your cannabis testing now.

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