In a recent press release, the Colorado Consumers Coalition listed the names of nine businesses who had their plants quarantined for pesticide misuse. The violating businesses: MiNDFUL, The Green Solution, Altitude East, Evolutionary Holdings, Green Cross Colorado, MMJ America, Organic Greens, RINO Supply Company, and Sweet Leaf, are some of the most well-known businesses in the state. The most shocking to the Cannabis Consumers Coalition were the names of businesses who market themselves as organic, such as MiNDFUL, Organic Greens and Rino Supply Company. This is a significant lie, and these businesses have lost all integrity with cannabis consumers, and are therefore being boycotted by the Cannabis Consumers Coalition without waiting for further action on behalf of these businesses because cannabis consumers’ trust has been violated.
The pesticides in violation were Eagle 20, Avid, and Mallet, the former was used by all nine businesses. Green Cross was also using Mallet, and Altitude East was using Mallet and Avid. All of the business are working with the Denver Department of Environmental Health and reaching out to the media. Only one of the businesses, MMJ America, has reached out to the Cannabis Consumers Coalition, and we will be meeting with them and posting a follow-up of that conversation. It has been rumored that some of these businesses have lobbyists trying to get the banned pesticides added to the acceptable pesticide list. The claim they are making, which is leading to a lot of confusion, is that these are systemic pesticides and fungicides are safe after a certain amount of days until harvest, and that they are safe because they are used on fruits and vegetables. However, cannabis is not a fruit or a vegetable, and it is also made into concentrates and is smoked. Concentrates are also used to make edibles. All of this putting cannabis consumers at risk because there is no data on the effects of these systemic pesticides in concentrated forms that hit the blood stream in more direct and concentrated manners. More tests are needed to determine if these pesticides are indeed safe for use in the manner that cannabis is consumed.
Many of these businesses and their owners have been known to claim moral authority when it comes to cannabis regulation, yet these recent violations question the right for these businesses to make that claim and bring to light integrity and honesty issues that lawmakers need to be aware of when these people reach out to them. One such person, Meg Sanders, CEO of MiNDFUL, is lobbying across the country using her business as a model business to base regulations off of, lying about growing methods, or anything for that matter, is not a the example we need in cannabis policy-making, and definitely not a quality to have for industry leaders. Furthermore, these people should not be making decisions on behalf of cannabis consumers.
Of no fault of their own, many lawmakers really don’t know any better than to listen to people who have the resources to promote their organizations as models because this is an emerging market that is also coming out of years of propaganda. Lawmakers are facing a significant learning curve and they really need to be listening to all stakeholders, especially consumers. The Cannabis Consumers Coalition is building relationships with lawmakers so that we can bring the consumer voice to the table when discussing issues that impact cannabis consumers directly, including pesticide use. Currently, businesses are only testing for potency, and not pesticides, molds, solvents, and other contaminants. Businesses are, however, required to include the names of pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers used on their products. To make matters worse, there is no consistency between local and state governments when it comes to enforcing pesticide misuse.
To remedy the issues, the Cannabis Consumers Coalition would like to see several policy changes take place as soon as possible. First, the state needs to stop stalling and create and enforce consistent testing standards through the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED). There needs to be testing of cannabis concentrates and edibles, as well as smoked cannabis, to check for pesticides before adding a pesticide to the accepted pesticide list. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also needs to issue certifications for pesticide testing. Second, local and state agencies need to include consumer representatives in stakeholder meetings regarding pesticides. The Cannabis Consumers Coalition has yet to hear back from the Colorado Department of Agriculture on being included in current best practices meetings that they are having with cannabis industry groups. Third, there needs to be a public service announcement put forth by the MED informing cannabis consumers of pesticide misuse and the violating companies. Fourth, all consumers be allowed to get cannabis and cannabis products tested at independent labs. Lastly, there needs to be harsher civil penalties for violating and they need to be made consistent across the state, so that means enforcement needs to be done by the MED. Quarantining and destroying plants, may cost thousands of dollars, but that is easily recouped. Instead, there needs to be penalty based system that begins with warning and quarantine/testing/destruction of plants, followed by a fine for a second offense, and license revocation for the third offense.
It is going to be a fight to get standards based on the needs of cannabis consumers. Strict testing policies and growing standards hurt the bottom line of businesses. Marijuana industry groups such as the Marijuana Industry Group (MIG), Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce (C4), and the Cannabis Business Alliance (CBA) have been fighting hard against testing for medical marijuana, particularly on the implementation of testing within the next six months, instead wanting to wait until July 2016 to begin testing medical marijuana because of costs, thus putting profits over human rights and public safety. To further maximize profits and keep a monopoly on testing, otherwise known as a closed-loop system, there will most certainly be a fight against allowing individual cannabis consumers to test their cannabis and cannabis infused products. The Cannabis Consumers Coalition is prepared to fight hard for cannabis consumers to have the right to know what is in their products as well as to hold the industry accountable to holding high standards in pesticide use.