Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board and Washington State Department of Agriculture agree to purchase testing equipment and dedicate staff to test for illegal pesticidesMore than two years after legal marijuana sales began in the state, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) and the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) on Thursday announced that they have an agreement in place that will allow the two agencies to work together cooperatively to test for illegal pesticides on marijuana.
The WSLCB will pay for the specialized equipment necessary to test for pesticides and two WSDA employees who will be dedicated to carrying out pesticide tests.
This agreement is for pesticide enforcement, random testing and testing when illegal pesticides are suspected, according to the agencies.
“This agreement will significantly expand the state’s ability to test for pesticides,” said WSLCB Director Rick Garza. “Testing for pesticides is a complex and costly process.”
“Labs need specialized equipment and highly-trained staff to carry out the tests,” Garza said.“This agreement will satisfy those obstacles. It will send a strong message to any producer applying illegal pesticides that they will be caught and face significant penalties, including possible cancellation of the license.”Under the terms of the agreement, WSDA will analyze an average of 75 samples per month covering a spectrum of 100 or more pesticides. The turnaround time for analytical results will be 15-30 calendar days, which seemingly could become problematic if tainted products reach the shelves of I-502 recreational marijuana retailers.
The agencies estimate only half of the samples will be analyzed for a “broad spectrum of 100 or more pesticides, as determined by WSLCB with WSDA input.” The other half of the samples will be analyzed for one specific pesticide only, “as requested by WSLCB.”
While analysis of cannabis concentrates like butane hash oil (BHO) is included, analysis of marijuana-infused products like edibles is not. Heavy metals analysis won’t be a part of any of the tests.
The Liquor and Cannabis Board will provide dried cannabis, “free of pesticides,” for the Department of Agriculture to use in method validation and for use as quality control and quality assurance samples. “WSDA may use previously tested samples for quality control, quality assurance, and method validation,” the agencies announced.
Twice a year, the two agencies will create a list of “priority compounds.” The Agriculture Department will create a screening list of pesticides that includes “as many of the priority compounds as practicable for a multi-residue method.”
WSDA will provide the Liquor and Cannabis Board with a list of compounds that will be included in the screening method. “This screen will be over 100 pesticides,” the agencies announced, presumably leaving at least 230 allowed pesticides for which there isn’t any screening.WSDA is the state agency responsible for regulating pesticides used and distributed in Washington. Currently, marijuana growers may use any of the 330 pesticides that WSDA has determined are allowed for use on marijuana, as long as all applicable label directions are followed.
The list of allowed pesticides is available on the WSDA’s Pesticide and fertilizer use on marijuana in Washington webpage. The list is also available by using the Washington State University Pesticide Information Center Online (PICOL) database.
“This new agreement will increase consumer protection in the emerging marijuana retail industry,” WSDA Director Derek Sandison said. “WSDA is pleased to partner with WSLCB to ensure that pesticide use in Washington’s marijuana production follows all applicable laws and regulations.”
The Washington State Department of Agriculture will bill the Liquor and Cannabis Board for the initial setup costs for “equipment an d services” under the agreement, to the tune of a cool $1,115,000. The WSLCB will pay this money upfront to the WSDA, before any services are performed, according to both agencies.
The annual cost of services under the agreement after the first fiscal year, “should the agreement continue,” will be billed by the WSDA to the WSLCB “in the amount of $300,000.
The agreement will be initiated this fall. The full terms of the agreement can be found here.