Understanding Pesticide Control

Crops cannot obtain federally tested certification because of its continued label as a schedule 1 substance.


As with all natural products consumed, testing is done at the federal level when pesticides are used for growing crops. This ensures the safety of the consumers that any chemicals used do not cause any form of health epidemic. In the produce industry, it’s already known which pesticides are safe to use on food and at what levels they can safely be ingested.

However, it’s a different story in the cannabis industry. Crops cannot obtain federally tested certification because of its continued label as a schedule 1 substance. Not only this, but we aren’t just eating the cannabis crops. We’re inhaling them by setting them on fire and combusting both the plant and any chemicals found on the plant.

This could mean we’re inhaling toxic fumes, not from cannabis, but from the pesticides lingering on the buds. And yes, there could be an increase in toxicity concerning concentrates, since high temperatures only kill microorganisms but could possibly produce toxic compounds. The industry currently lacks knowledge of pesticide combustion and their effects on human health. What we do know, is that a pesticide known as myclo-butanil, a fungicide, is safe to use on plants like strawberries and grapes because it’s easily washed off. Unfortunately, it forms hydrogen cyanide when combusted.

Hydrogen cyanide, when inhaled, can cause headache, giddiness, palpitations, and respiratory problems. Signs can be acute depending on the amount inhaled, and exposure in high concentrations can lead to vomiting, respiratory failure, and unconsciousness. Long-term exposure is unknown, since animal testing has not yet been pursued - a vital aspect missing in the realm of pesticides and combustion.

But like any industry, it takes time to build up knowledge and proper regulations surrounding the cultivation and labeling of crops for ingestible uses. Though the federal government isn’t currently involved, there are third-party certification services such as the Organic Cannabis Organization, Green Clean, and Certified Kind just to name a few, all of which have their own guidelines in identifying and certifying cultivators that grow without pesticides as well as work in diminishing their carbon footprint.

The original, legal-by-state consumers, are patients trying to ease an ailment or fix one. We don’t want toxic chemicals on a nontoxic plant, thereby creating even more health difficulties for the patients who are trying to solve them. And we certainly don’t want recreational consumers to develop them. With medical and recreational consumers working and building knowledge together, we can continue to improve our certification regulations regarding pesticides, and improve the products being sold to us on dispensary shelves.

To do this, and fish out the cultivators that aren’t using safe methods of pest control, it’s vital that consumers ask questions and buy what has been certified.