Even though the medical use of Cannabis has been legal since Colorado’s patient registry was established on June 1, 2001, there are no pesticides labeled for use on this crop. In other words, you cannot legally treat these plants for the insect, mite, and disease pests that infest medical marijuana. Root aphid, powdery mildew, viruses, and botrytis are problems I’ve noticed in the facilities I’ve worked with and the lack of approved pesticides is a concern.
Without legal approved products growers use whatever is available. Some of these products result in contamination putting the patient’s health at risk. Growers in the know are using biopesticides, products that are relatively safe and should be labeled for use on Cannabis. These natural materials typically are very specific to the pest and of minor consequence to the patient due to their short residue and low mammalian toxicity. Some biopesticides are even approved for organic use and would be the best products to use when legalized for use in the production of marijuana. Thankfully there is an on-going effort to register some pesticides for use on Cannabis in Colorado.
In addition to the concern about the illegal use of pesticides and patient safety, growers also need to be aware of the Worker Protection Standard (WPS). Even if a pesticide is used illegally, WPS can still apply. Next time you pick up a bottle of a pesticide check the label to see if it mentions WPS on the label. While this does not apply to homeowners, it does apply to agricultural employers. Growers who hire workers to assist in the production of Cannabis or any other crop are required to abide by WPS to ensure their workers receive information and training on how to avoid exposure to pesticides and pesticide residues. While these standards exempt immediate family members of the grower, i.e. spouse, siblings, parents, or children, if an uncle is hired to assist in the business, he must receive this training or the grower is in violation of this requirement. WPS is a way to protect the unsuspecting from contamination and the grower from a lawsuit.
Mycotrol O, an organic product containing Beauveria bassiana, is a great product for aphids. Beauveria bassiana is a soil-inhabiting fungus that feeds on insects. The Restricted Entry Interval (REI) is four hours during which time the grower, workers, and others should not enter the treated area unless they are wearing the appropriate protective equipment. Even though Mycotrol O can be applied up to the day of harvest, the Worker Protective Standard (WPS) requires anyone entering the treated area within thirty days of an application to have received training on decontamination, emergency assistance, emergency first aid, etc. There are eleven items required in the training. A record to keep track of everyone receiving the training is necessary. This requirement applies to caregivers who hire workers to help grow and process their products as well as every other agricultural producer.
To help keep agricultural growers legal, Jude Sirota and I will be conducting a workshop at the Country Inns on Horizon Drive in Grand Junction Colorado on May 9th 2013. Jude and I are certified as Qualified Pesticide Supervisors by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Jude holds license number 00759 while my license number is 00019. This workshop will provide the training required for you to be WPS legal, as well as training for Colorado pesticide applicator technicians, Certified Operators and Qualified Supervisors for several categories. If you want to receive a brochure about this workshop or you would like a personal visit to your operation give me a call at 970.778.7866 or drop me an email at Curtis.Swift@alumni.colostate.edu.