Pesticides & Pot

Smoke it up kids!



Yup, last year my home state legalized the use, sale, growing and distribution of marijuana.  Not just for medical purposes either.  Since then the state government has been working to figure out the best regulations to have in place and standards to keep the product safely managed.  This is going to be quite a money maker for Washington…I hope Colorado finally gets their butts moving.

Recently the WA Department of Agriculture released a list of 200 pesticides that can be used on marijuana plants.  The thing is, since this plant has been illegal for the last thirty-fourty years there are not EPA standards regarding the use of pesticides on this plant.  I’ve tried a few quick searches online to get a hold of this list but so far I haven’t found it.  I could just not be looking hard enough.  According to KUOW, a local NPR/PRI station in western Washington, this list has earned “praise” for its comprehensiveness.  I’m looking forward to seeing this list.

Aside from possible mold problems or attacks from overeager cats, there are some legitimate concerns in regard to pests of this plant.  According to pests include: Mealybugs, Aphids, Spider Mites, Whiteflies, Thrips, Beetles, Caterpillars and a few others.  Basically, your pest concerns are going to be consistent with most other plants grown in similar conditions.  Growing in a greenhouse type environment?  Be ready for mealybuggs, whiteflies, thrips and especially spider mites.  Be ready for spider mites wherever you are.  Those suckers are just, well, suckers.  Some good recommendations are to encourage natural enemies (lacewings and lady beetles) to feed on your pests.  Lacewings are especially good at this.  Some of the other recommendations are maybe not so useful.  Grinding up your pests and then spraying them on the plants to serve as a sort of warning to other pests?  Why not just pee on the plant and call it good?  And the bleach-water solution just sounds like a bad idea.  But hey, feel free to smoke that bleachy-leaf bro.*

When I see the list I’ll update you on what I think.  I am particularly interested in what they will recommend for organic treatment methods.  And, keep in mind none of these are official recommendations.  It’s just a list of 200+ things you can use.  I know many who are on the everything-has-to-be-organic-raised-by-virgin-monks kick who would happily smoke a bowl.  I wonder if they will be just as picky with their pot as they are with their tomato choices?  There will very likely be organic and low-impact methods of dealing with pests and if you have low pest levels it probably won’t be that much of an issue anyway.  IPM (Integrated Pest Management) tactics are best.  Cultural and other control and treatment methods combined are the best paths to any treating any pest problem.

Just to be smart, ALL of you, if you’re using any pesticide be sure you read the labels FIRST!  If it says it’s good for grubs but you have aphids, don’t use the bloody stuff.  And, as always, if your plant is outdoors and flowering, be aware that it is likely attracting pollinators.  Bees, butterflies and other pollinators are insects and as such, can be susceptible to insecticides.


*Sarcasm does not act as an actual endorsement for smoking bleach drenched plants of any kind. Do not sue me…my cats need to eat.


2 thoughts on “Pesticides & Pot

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  1. FYI it is NOT legal for regular recreation users to grow in Washington state. The only individuals who can grow are medical patients with a valid medical recommendation recognized by the state of Washington and then only 15 plants per patient. Patients may combine forces in groups of 3 (45 plants) to create collective gardens, which other patients may become members of to legally access cannabis products. All other grow operations are at the discretion of the state and must be licensed properly to be legal.

    Growers who supply many MMJ (medical marijuana) dispensaries often try to grow as organically as possible due to health concerns of their member patients. Neem oil is the organic grower’s choice for pests of the many-legged variety.

    One of the major concerns of patients in Washington in response to 520 (the bill that ‘legalized’ pot) is that recreational outlets for cannabis will have a limited selection of organic product. At this time there is a substantial lobby trying to roll all cannabis access into recreational facilities, essentially prohibiting medical access points, which could be problematic for patient access. The patients we see at the access point for which I work are seeking holistic wellness and healing. Limiting safe access to safe medicines is a big concern.

    1. Neem is an interesting product with varying applicability. It is absolutely useless against some pests (ex: bed bugs) but does show efficacy against others. A thick, thorough application on both the top and underside of a plant is necessary to successfully deal with arthropod pests. This will also require a repeat treatment 7-14 days after the initial one. If used outside, be sure to use (per label instructions) and not while bees and other pollinators are visiting flowers as it is an insecticide. I imagine there will be other organic “recommendations” on that list though I still haven’t seen it. I sent them a message…maybe they’ll reply.

      Yes, after reading the FAQ’s about I-502 it’s true, recreational smokers are not allowed to grow their own marijuana and must purchase it from a licensed dispensary. Looks like applications for licenses will be up in a little over a month (16 Sept, 2013). Would have been nice if recreational smokers could grow a single plant or two in their own homes in a similar way that a home brewer makes beer or wine. Though I imagine it would be too difficult to regulate and we are stepping into very murky legal territory. Baby steps, right?

      I’m quite curious how this whole pesticide issue is going to play out. Pesticide labels (synthetic and organic) are designed to be protections for both the consumer and the company. The company has had their product tested (often by outside sources but not always) and the rates for use have been determined and which plants it can be used on are determined, then it’s approved by the EPA and then they get a fancy number and can sell it. Each state may have additional regulations on top of that. So, if we have a product that is illegal by federal standards, no product can be given an EPA registration which means no state approval. This essentially means, every pesticide (again, synthetic and organic) bought, sold, and used on a marijuana plant is being used against label instructions.

      As far as Medical Marijuana use in WA, this is what the FAQ’s have to say about it:
      Medical Marijuana
      Note: I-502 does not address medical marijuana. The state does not currently license or regulate medical marijuana outlets. I-502 does not change how or where they operate.

      Q: Can medical marijuana patients continue to cooperatively grow?
      A: I-502 is silent on medical marijuana.

      Q: Is it true that the WSLCB is just going to license current medical marijuana outlets to retail marijuana?
      A: No. Retail licenses will be issued to qualified applicants who meet the licensing criteria. A medical marijuana outlet that wants to convert to a recreational outlet will have to go through the same application process as any other potential applicant. If they were to obtain a retail license they would only be allowed to sell marijuana purchased from the recreational system, they would not be allowed to comingle medical and recreational marijuana.

      Q: Where can I learn more about medical marijuana?
      A: The Washington State Department of Health has information about medical marijuana on its website here.

      Q: Will the Washington State Liquor Control Board be changing its name?
      A: Presently there are no plans to change the agency’s name. Any change would have to come from the state Legislature and that is a low priority at the moment.

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