Colorado authorities are concerned that the lure of big bucks from the State's legalized marijuana industry is pushing some growers to use banned and illegal pesticides in order to keep up with demand for the drug.
They say the pesticides not only keep plant destroying bugs, insects and disease at bay, but also prompt faster growth in some cases.
The banned pesticides can cause health dangers to consumers who smoke or ingest the plants, as well as present a danger to those who work within the growing facilities.
The Colorado Department of Revenue, which oversees the marijuana industry, has begun an investigation into how widespread the use of banned pesticides is in the State.
Department spokesperson Ro Silva says the Marijuana Enforcement Division, along with other state agencies, "will continue to develop this portion of mandatory testing by working collaboratively to develop regulations and to certify licensed retail marijuana testing facilities for pesticide testing. There is not a timeline right now for the MED to test for pesticides."
Pesticides that are illegal to use on marijuana plants in Colorado are being found in both medical and recreational marijuana being marketed and sold to the public. This has lead to product recalls and plant quarantines
The ironic things is that pesticide testing is not mandatory for Colorado's marijuana businesses, nor is there random pesticide testing, as there are for other commercially grown crops.
Mitch Yergert of the state's agriculture department says commercial marijuana growers are left to self-regulate pesticide use.
Because of state laws, consumers are not able to test their own pot products for pesticides at state-licensed labs, which can only test marijuana voluntarily submitted to them directly by commercial growers and dispensaries.
Dan Rowland of Denver's Office of Marijuana Policy says city officials carry out pesticide investigations and testing when businesses are flagged but more is required.
Rowland says he worries that the "long-term impacts" of smoking or ingesting marijuana whose plant base has been treated with a banned pesticide are "unknown" but "the risk is there and that's really all the city needs to step in. In public health, we're going to err on the side of caution."