Illegal Pesticide Use Rampant in Washington

More than 40 percent of cannabis tested by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) in the last year has contained high levels of both allowed and banned pesticides, The Stranger reports.

The medical cannabis group Patients United released data that showed 43 percent of samples tested by the WSDA between March 2017 and July 2018 contained banned pesticides or illegally high amounts of allowed pesticides. In that time period, 387 tests were conducted and, in some cases, pesticide levels were over 90 times the limit.

John Kingsbury, a cannabis advocate with Patients United called the results a “public health emergency.”

“Likely tens of thousands of Washington consumers are consuming regulated recreational cannabis during any one day. With pesticide testing failure rates of 30-43%, it is statistically guaranteed that those consumers will consume product with illegal amounts of pesticides in it every third use.” — John Kingsbury, in a letter to the Washington Liquor Control Board

Washington is one of the only states with legalization that does not require testing for illegal pesticides. In Washington, pesticide testing is based on random samples and complaints that are filed for specific products, but Patients United wants pesticide testing for all products.

Brian Smith, spokesperson for the Washington Liquor Control Board, said that the WSDA data may be skewed because testing is usually driven by complaints.

Kingsbury with Patients United, however, said that a separate report from private lab Confidence Analytics confirmed the emergency, finding that 30 percent of Washington’s cannabis contained illegal levels of pesticides.

Washington is currently considering a mandate that all products must be tested. The Liquor Control Board is expected to decide new lab testing standards sometime after October 31.

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