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Colorado Governor Gets Involved in State’s Pot Pesticide Problem

Maureen Meehan

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When Denver’s environmental health unit warned the state’s booming marijuana businesses that it intended to enforce federal, state, and local laws governing the use of pesticides and agricultural chemicals, pesticide enforcement in Denver quickly followed. But the state continued to act like the problem did not exist.

As time passed, pesticide residue violations led to marijuana product recalls and plant quarantines.

State officials dithered over how to deal with pesticides, since the Environmental Protection Agency would not rule on them because pot is still classified as a Schedule I drug—hence, federally illegal.

Enter Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper, who recently signed an executive order that finally accepts some responsibility for pesticide enforcement, according to Food Safety News.

Governor Hickenlooper’s executive order directs the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDHE) to regard all off-label pesticide use as a public health risk, and orders the Colorado Department of Revenue to do the same.

Colorado pot growers have used some potent pesticides to control spider mites and mildew, which often occur when growing indoors. The list of pesticides being used only became public after Denver stepped up city enforcement.

Meanwhile, two marijuana users in Colorado filed a lawsuit in October against a pot business for using unhealthy pesticides, marking the first product liability claim in the country involving the legal marijuana industry.

Governor Hickenlooper’s executive order, which also applies the Colorado Pesticide Applicators Act to marijuana growers, could not have come at a better moment.

Many in Colorado were surprised at the actions of the new “pesticide cop,” wrote Food Safety News. After all, the Democratic Governor was known for his opposition to Colorado’s 2012 legalization initiative.

However, two years later, Hickenlooper began to accept generous campaign contributions from the marijuana industry. Perhaps the governor’s effort to protect his state’s extremely lucrative pot industry is not terribly surprising.

Maureen Meehan is a New York-based writer, who has worked as a foreign correspondent for many years.

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