MENDOCINO CO., 6/26/17 — Cannabis farming has been officially recognized as agriculture, at the state level, since the passage of the statewide Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act in 2015 — meaning that cannabis regulations now fall under the purview of the ag department. Much as other kinds of farmers have to register with the county and get trained whenever they spray or use pesticides, cannabis farmers will need to follow similar requirements. This Wednesday, the county’s ag department is holding workshops about what that’s going to mean for growers. As of now, no pesticides have been approved for use on cannabis, although certain substances can be used for rodent control.
The California Department of Food & Ag is still developing its guidelines for those cultivation permits, and what pesticides, if any, will be approved to use on cannabis will be decided by the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation. Meanwhile, Mendocino County's permitted cannabis cultivation program is underway for the season — and staff are currently sorting through applications, arranging site visits, and have approved at least one farm. To prepare farmers for regulations coming down the road, Mendocino’s Department of Agriculture is holding two training sessions covering “Pesticide Use Enforcement” on Wednesday June 28th, and another two planned for July 6, which interim Ag Commissioner Diane Curry announced at the June 20 Board of Supervisors meetings.
The workshops will “focus on basic pesticide concepts and regulations that our department will be enforcing in the coming months,” states the announcement. The training will not cover the pesticide handling certification currently required for other county farms, who are required to have certified pesticide handlers and report the use of approved pesticides to the county. Those trainings will be held separately, and the Ag Department expects to schedule more throughout the year.
Pesticide use at unregulated cannabis grow sites has long been a concern amongst medical cannabis patients, particularly in concentrates, and also raised alarms due to potential harm to wildlife or other environmental impacts. Permitted cannabis in states such as Oregon and Washington have also tested positive for pesticide use. Several of the state agencies involved in establishing cannabis permitting requirements for medical and “adult use” cannabis farms in California will determine what pesticides are permitted, and what testing standards cannabis cultivators will need to meet to legally sell their crops. Water permitting agencies, such as the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, also have requirements for cannabis cultivators concerning pesticides and nutrient storage and use, to ensure water quality standards are met, and run-off is not contaminating the environment.
As of now, no pesticide have been specifically approved for use on cannabis by the state. Only a short list of items have been approved for rodent control and pest management, including “capsicum oleoresin, putrescent whole egg solids, [and] garlic,” although a Sacramento Bee article reports several more were approved last week. Even farmers using organic growing methods, however, will likely need to be trained in approved application practices if they are spraying sulfur or similar substances on their crops. As part of the county's cultivation program, a "Mendocino Grown," certification will be available to cultivators who follow local guidelines that are similar to those required for an organic farming certification.
Here’s the info on the two training sessions, which take place Wednesday, June 28 at the Ag Department in Ukiah, with another two planned for July 6 in the same location. Space is limited to 35 attendees, so advance registration is required. The flyer for the first two workshops is listed below. You can also read the available information about cannabis pesticide use and pest management from the state Department of Pesticide Regulation, and a list of best practices for pest management here.2017 Cannabis Pesticide 101 Flyer
June 26, 2017, Kate B. Maxwell, [email protected]