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Colorado issues first state-level hold on marijuana due to pesticides


Originally written by David Migoya and Ricardo Baca for The Denver Post

Colorado marijuana regulators announced Friday they have put a large but undisclosed number of plants and products on hold from two cultivation facilities over concerns they were treated with unapproved pesticides.

The health-and-safety advisory by the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division is the first use of an executive order by Gov. John Hickenlooper issued in November declaring pesticide-ladden pot a “public health hazard.”

Though Denver health officials have issued several recalls and health advisories about pesticide-tainted pot, this is the first similar move by state officials.

Plants from Dr Releaf Inc in Colorado Springs and High Mountain Medz were placed on administrative hold pending an investigation, MED said.

It was not immediately clear which High Mountain cultivation facility — Colorado Springs or Florence — was affected by the MED hold.

Each location has plants and products that include dozens of strains of marijuana grown since at least August 2015, officials said.

Neither business could be immediately reached for comment.

MED investigators were alerted to the pesticide problem by Colorado Department of Agriculture inspectors, officials said.

Officials said the inspectors had identified the presence of myclobutanil in each location, a powerful fungicide that, when heated, converts to a potentially hazardous form of hydrogen cyanide.

Consumers are advised to return any product they have from these businesses back to the place of purchase, Colorado Department of Revenue spokeswoman Lynn Granger said.

Unlike Denver, which has released pot it held over pesticide concerns when trace levels dropped below those allowed on other food products, Hickenlooper’s order requires the destruction of any pot found to have been treated with unapproved pesticides.

Hickenlooper’s order came after months of wrangling over how to handle pesticides on pot, which has no legal use under the federal laws that govern pesticides.

Agriculture officials have limited those pesticides whose label would not prevent their use on marijuana, while warning that it’s unclear what pesticides are safe since no reliable testing has ever been done.

Marijuana is a unique crop because it can be smoked or ingested by other means. Most pesticides are tested for safety using ingestion methods specific to the crop.

But federal law deems marijuana a dangerous and illegal drug, precluding any pesticide testing.

David Migoya: 303-954-1506, dmigoya@denverpost.com or @davidmigoya

This story was first published on DenverPost.com

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