Recently, Colorado has been buzzing with pesticide recall issues surrounding cannabis. Tons of products were recalled for not being up to industry standards—and part of the problem is that because the industry is so new and unregulated, it is not quite clear what those standards are. Now, Governor Hickenlooper has decided to crack down on cannabis standards and enforce new rules that will cost the cannabis industry millions.
In mid-November, Governor Hickenlooper finally made the decision to quarantine and destroy all the products initially called out in the pesticide debacle. Because so many products were affected by the pesticides in question, this is taking major chunk out of business for many grows and dispensaries.
“The facilities with products currently subject to recall are already planning to destroy those products,” Danica Lee, Denver’s food safety section manager for the public health inspections division, told the Denver Post. “(Hickenlooper’s order) reinforces the importance of protecting consumers from potentially dangerous pesticides. It is unclear at this point what impact this order will have on Denver’s investigations. We’re still evaluating it.”
While this is certainly an economic blow, some local cannabis businesses already voluntarily recalled their products in order to keep their names clean, and many are supporting it.
“We believe this brings much-needed clarification to the industry,” John Lord, owner of LivWell dispensary in Denver, told the Denver Post. “We recognized there was a lack of standards in place in the past.”
“For all intents and purposes, these businesses broke the law, and there was no enforcement,” added Larisa Bolivar, a representative from the Cannabis Consumers Coalition, in reference to the businesses that used the illegal pesticides in an interview with the Post. “Their plants were put on hold; some businesses voluntarily destroyed their plants. But the fact remains that they used pesticides that weren’t approved by the state.”
Overall, it appears that this is a case of all or nothing—because cannabis is still technically a Schedule I drug and there is not enough scientific evidence to support what pesticides are within the safe range for consumption, the only way to truly be safe is to get rid of anything that may be contaminated or not safe for smoking, vaping, or eating.
“Without the science to know one way or the other what specifically is a public safety risk, it has to be all of it. It either had to be all-in or not all-in,” Andrew Freedman, the Governor’s director of marijuana policy, stated.
While this will certainly cost big bucks for the cannabis industry, almost everyone involved agrees it is much better to be safe than sorry. As with most other aspects of the cannabis industry, true progress can only be made once the substance is rescheduled so that pesticides and other contaminants can be properly tested in order to avoid mishaps like this in the future.