Pesticides, the Environment, and Medical Cannabis
Because growing cannabis remains illegal under federal law, the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency has never established appropriate pesticide tolerances
or regulations for cannabis crops. The lack of standardization and rules
has caused much concern about pesticide regulation in the industry, particularly
as cannabis is intended for human consumption. Under the new laws, the
Department of Pesticide Regulation, along with a bevy of other state authorities,
is charged with establishing standards for the use of pesticides on crops.
This includes establishing maximum levels, what pesticides are appropriate,
In addition, the Bureau of Medical Marijuana and the Department of Fish
and Wildlife are addressing concerns about the cannabis industry’s
effect on water use and other environmental impacts. The MMRSA implements
a program that requires the Bureau and Department to evaluate individual
and cumulative effects of facilities on water diversion and discharge
in order to ensure that cannabis cultivation does not affect instream
flows, which are needed for fish spawning, migration, and rearing. In
addition, cultivation must not have a negative impact on springs, riparian
wetlands, and aquatic habitats.
The MMRSA addresses waste produced by the cannabis industry as well, as
the new laws establish that regional boards must regulate waste discharge
in a multitude of ways. First, development and maintenance of crop sites
must include erosion control and drainage features. In addition, soil
disposal, water storage and use, and irrigation runoff are all regulated.
Furthermore, the use of fertilizers, petroleum products, and other chemical
is monitored, and both cultivation-related and human waste must meet certain
standards as well. Finally, the boards will address cleanup, restoration,
and mitigation of cannabis crop sites.