Massachusetts authorities changed their minds when it comes to pesticide use in the marijuana industry and will allow pest-fighting chemicals that are approved for use on hemp and tobacco.
That’s per a Nov. 30 policy shift by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, The Boston Globe reported. The move reverses a previous ban on all non-organic pesticide use by cannabis farmers in the state.
“MDAR recognizes that the industry has been in need of tools to help combat pest problems,” an agency spokeswoman told The Globe. “By updating the pesticide policy and adding additional precautionary measures, the new criteria will provide the industry with new tools to protect their crops while still ensuring current laws and safety measures are complied with.”
Although there isn’t yet a formal list of specific pesticides that are approved, MDAR’s memo specifies that any pesticide approved by the federal government for use on both hemp and tobacco is allowed for use on marijuana crops, as long as that pesticide is also registered with the state.
Regulators also issued a flow chart to help growers determine if a given pesticide is allowed.
Cannabis farmers rejoiced at the news and said it would make production far easier, particularly since many have faced enormous fines from the state for using banned pesticides.
Suekiho Ono, the CEO of Eos Farms, called it a “huge step in the right direction.”
Ono said he lost roughly 60% of his crop in 2021 to pests such as worms and said the new pesticide tools could be revolutionary for growers such as him, particularly at a time when cannabis wholesale prices have been plummeting.
The policy change was spurred in part by the federal legalization of hemp in 2018, since that opened the door to U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for specific pesticides to be used on the plant, which is essentially a cousin to marijuana. Because marijuana is still federally illegal, there are technically no pesticides that are approved for use on it.
But the hemp switch gave states like Massachusetts a new opening on pesticides and which ones are safe for crops that are intended to be combustible, such as tobacco.