Colorado’s Struggle with Pesticide Regulation

Colorado’s Struggle with Pesticide Regulation

(Ted Warren/AP)

Colorado voters decided to legalize recreational marijuana for adults almost three years ago. One of the advantages of legalization is the regulation of the quality of cannabis sold when it comes to things like pesticides. Those who have ever bought marijuana on the black market know there is no information or standards; the weed you get was grown however the grower felt like growing it. Maybe they used pesticides, maybe they didn’t. Maybe they used natural methods of pest control or maybe they sprayed their plants with tons of toxic chemicals.

It is still early in Colorado’s experiment with recreational marijuana sales, and one of the areas there have been struggles is the regulation of pesticides. State officials have been working on a list of pesticides to ban for quite some time, but they have faced resistance from the cannabis growers themselves and have received no guidance from the feds.

The growers in Colorado have resisted regulations because that’s what businesses do — they resist anything that is going to raise their costs. In a free market the government has few responsibilities, but one of them is setting up standards for product safety and making sure businesses abide by them.

While authorities in Colorado struggled with making their list of banned pesticides, the federal Environmental Protection Agency was silent on the subject since any kind of cannabis growing is illegal under federal law unless the feds have given specific permission, like the research farm at the University of Mississippi.

Earlier this year regulators released a draft list of pesticides to ban. Authorities are now gearing up to start performing inspections of cannabis growers in the state.

Legalization, especially for the first states to implement it, is going to be full of bumps in the road. Colorado is showing the way for all that come after.