The State of Colorado is continuing to update the list of pesticides that can be used on cannabis within its geographical boundaries. For now, the Colorado Department of Agriculture has approved six more pesticide products to join the existing list that already features more than 100 other unique pesticides.
The six new approved pesticides for use on cannabis include All Phase, Circadian Sunrise, Confine Extra and MegaGro L, plus Rhizopon AA #2 (0.3) and Thymox Control Fungicide and Bactericide Concentrate. All were found to comply with Colorado’s Pesticide Applicator’s Act, which is the ultimate determinant of approval, by the State’s Department of Agriculture.
These updates come as part of the State of Colorado’s mission to maintain a proper reference for all approved pesticides for the cannabis industry. According to the Department of Agriculture’s website, the State is already seeking to “regulate the distribution and use of pesticides in the state to prevent adverse impacts to the public and the environment,”
For cannabis growers in Colorado, using any other pesticides except those on the approved list is a violation that is punishable by the State through banning entire lines of cannabis products, civil penalties and other associated punishments.
The New Approved Pesticides
A closer look at the newly approved pesticides shows that they all easily fit the Department’s frame of the ideal pesticide, i.e., one whose ingredients and composition does not affect the environment or cannabis consumers adversely in any way.
All Phase, manufactured by Circadian Crop Sciences LLC, has potassium sorbate and sodium lauryl sulfate as its active components (34.7% and 2% respectively). The list further marks it as a fungicide and bactericide that is okay for both personal and commercial use in the growth of hemp.
Circadian Crop Sciences LLC is also the manufacturer of Circadian Sunrise, another entrant on the list that has corn oil and peppermint oil as its active ingredients (17% and 10% respectively). Marked as an insecticide, fungicide and miticide, the pesticide is also fully approved for use on hemp both commercially and personally.
The Winfield Solutions LLC-manufactured Confine Extra makes the list with Phosphorus Acid and Potassium salts as the active ingredients (53%). It is unique in that it is not allowed for personal use in the growth of hemp, although it can be employed on a commercial scale. Confine Extra is marked as a fungicide and can be used by cannabis growers only before transplanting the plant.
MegaGro L is marked as a plant growth regulator by the list and is allowed for both commercial and personal use on cannabis/hemp. In both these uses, the pesticide is only allowed for use in greenhouses and on plant cuttings. MegaGro L is manufactured by CH Biotech, LLC and has Cytokinin and Indole-3-Butyric Acid as active ingredients (0.15% and 0.85% respectively).
Rhizopon AA #2 (0.3) is another of the newly approved pesticides for cannabis growers that is marked as a plant growth regulator. It features Indole-3-Butyric Acid as a primary active ingredient (0.3%), supported by both rosemary and peppermint oils. Rhizopon AA #2 (0.3) is manufactured by Hortus USA Corp.
Thymox Control Fungicide and Bactericide Concentrate has Thyme oil as its main active ingredient (27%) and is marked as both a fungicide and a bactericide. Manufactured by Laboratoire M2 Inc., the pesticide is approved for both commercial and personal use in cannabis/hemp growing.
The newly approved pesticides join a long list of other already-approved and common-in-use pesticides in Colorado, such as Terraclean, Spider Mite Control, PlantSafe Liquid Concentrate, Permatrol, GardenTech RootBoost Rooting Hormone, Athena Mildew Control and more.
Pesticide use on cannabis
Cannabis, like any other fruit and plant, is easily affected by flies, insects and other destructive pests during growth that leads to the destruction of leaves, withering of flowers and even death.
To combat this, many cannabis growers employ various pesticides on their crop to improve yields, especially those that grow it on a commercial scale. The problem is that some of the pesticides used by many cannabis growers are actually dangerous for end-line consumers and the environment in general.
Initially, the problem was thought to be associated with weed bought on the black market, according to the cannabis website Planet Natural. But the problem persisted even when weed was legalized across many states in the country.
One of the most common dangerous compounds discovered in cannabis samples that tested positive for unapproved pesticides was myclobutanil. The compound is usually found in the fungicide Eagle 20, which is itself used mostly on grapes.
Studies show that myclobutanil is highly dangerous for human consumption. When heated, such as when cannabis is rolled into a joint, myclobutanil actually disintegrates to give off one of the world’s worst and most dangerous compounds, hydrogen cyanide.
Other dangerous compounds such as Imidacloprid have also been also found in tested cannabis samples.
How do these compounds get absorbed by the cannabis plants?
There’s more than one way the cannabis plants are exposed to dangerous compounds in pesticides. The first way, through the actual spraying of pesticides on cannabis plants to ward off pesky pests, is the most prevalent.
Some pesticides aren’t too eager to get washed off leaves by rain, so they get absorbed instead. Most times, the pesticides also get sink into the ground and are later absorbed by the cannabis plants for their growth process.
The second way is more common on farms where cannabis is grown close to other fruits or plants. When said plants are sprayed with pesticide, some of it rolls off during the rains and gets washed up to the cannabis plants, which then soak it up and absorb into their leaves and stems.
Unapproved cannabis pesticides in Colorado
Colorado’s fight against unapproved pesticides on cannabis has been going on for a while. In 2012, months after legalizing cannabis statewide, an investigation by state officials found traces of two dangerous pesticides/miticides, Avid and Floramite in a cannabis garden in Idaho Springs.
It wasn’t the main reason for the investigation, but it prompted a wide-scale negative public reaction that the State initially dismissed. According to the cannabis website Planet Natural, two whole years passed without any major action from the State of Colorado.
When the Department of Agriculture finally started testing cannabis samples, all the results turned out positive for dangerous pesticides. That’s when the State started creating and updating its list of approved pesticides in addition to announcing pot recalls. One cannabis grow site in Denver was quarantined for a similar reason.
Still, with some resistance from cannabis growers themselves, more and more cannabis products are testing positive for unapproved pesticides in Colorado today.
The Pesticide Applicator’s Act
For now, the State of Colorado is counting on its Pesticide Applicator’s Act 35-10-117(1) (i) to help with the battle against unapproved pesticides. In line with the Act, the Department of Agriculture is also reviewing existing pesticide labels to identify those that are fit for use on cannabis.