It started with a public vote on November 6, 2012 when the citizens of Colorado decided to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. Colorado became the first state in the nation to open recreational pot stores and became the first place in the world where marijuana is regulated from seed to sale. This set the wheels in motion to develop a regulatory system for the production, sale, and use of marijuana to ensure the public safety. However, just six months after the city of Denver began a crackdown on unapproved pesticides in marijuana products, a Denver Post investigation revealed that dangerous, and possible deadly, pesticides were being marketed to consumers. In November, these investigations led to Denver announcing its ninth marijuana recall in just 10 weeks, this time for more than 12,600 packages of pot-infused edibles made by Denver-based Gaia’s Garden. This latest voluntary recall targets marijuana products contaminated with potentially dangerous pesticides not approved for use on cannabis plants. Earlier this year, as part of the investigation, tests on recreational marijuana extracts revealed that in some cases products contained pesticides six times the maximum amount allowed by the federal government in any food product, and 1,800 times higher than the level Denver officials accept. Results on some of the recalled products found potent levels of the chemical pesticides myclobutanil and imidacloprid, as well as measurable amounts of avermectin, all disallowed for use in marijuana production in Colorado.
Denver officials claim that any trace of a prohibited pesticide in the state’s marijuana products is troublesome. “This information indicates a significant public health concern,” said Danica Lee, food safety section manager in the public health inspections division of Denver’s Department of Environmental Health.
“The most pressing potential health risk in this industry is likely to be pesticides,” says Ian Barringer, found of marijuana testing lab, Rm3 Labs, in Boulder. “There are concerns about the cumulative impact of smoking potentially pesticide-laden marijuana.”
In the wake of the safety recalls, Governor Hickenlooper issued an Executive Order declaring that the tainted pot is a threat to the public. The order says agencies should use all investigative and enforcement authority to end the threat, “including, but not limited to, placing contaminated marijuana on administrative hold and destroying contaminated marijuana pursuant to existing law.”
State law requires marijuana businesses to test for pesticide residues, but this requirement has been stalled because currently only one lab is certified to do that type of analysis. Even worse, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is charged with regulating pesticide use, has never established any guidelines or limits for the crops because the plant is still illegal under federal law. Although several pesticides are approved for use on some fruit and vegetable crops, pesticides on marijuana is a controversial topic because no science exists to say which products are safe for consumers.
Were you or a loved one injured by a dangerous or defective product? Contact an experienced Colorado product liability attorney, who can evaluate your case and help you understand your rights.