Do you know how your medicinal cannabis was grown? Like other farmed plants, marijuana can be invaded by fungi, bacteria, nematodes, and viruses as well as insects, rodents and larger animals such as deer. Marijuana growers can use pesticides and fungicides to improve and protect their crops.
Pesticides in medicinal marijuana are becoming a growing concern among patients, with good reason. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 7,600 pesticide poisoning cases were reported in California between 2000 and 2008 alone. Nearly 200 of those cases resulted in hospitalization and half of these were from agriculture uses. Exposure to pesticides has been shown to cause a range of health effects. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the health effects of pesticides depend on the type of pesticide and can cause skin and eye irritation, reproductive issues, some cancers and many other diseases.
Basic to organic farming is the avoidance of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. According to various marijuana testing labs, current screening methods can detect over 127 types of pesticides in marijuana. Though the U.S. Department of Agriculture certifies organic farm operations in the United States, marijuana is still illegal at the federal level and cannot be certified as organic by the USDA.
One organization called Clean Green Certified, which certifies hundreds of organic operations across the nation for the USDA, offers a certified organic program for cannabis. Located in California, Clean Green Certified reviews organic organizations using the National Organic Program Standards and other International Standards for sustainability.
Making consumer health and safety a priority is part of being a responsible medicinal cannabis business. And, that priority begins with the marijuana plants you grow or purchase and how to ensure they are free from pesticides.
But what do marijuana growers need to do to maintain organic best practices? Preventing disease and pests from attacking a crop is a good first step. That requires creating the best environment in which to grow marijuana and catching and solving any problems quickly.
In Ed Rosenthal’s book, Marijuana Pest and Disease Control, he recommends growers begin with clean growing practices. Keep pots, tools, benches and any equipment used in production clean and sterile and extends to using sterilized seeds, if starting from seed. A fine balance of temperature, humidity and air circulation impact how well plants grow and what diseases may become problematic. The amount of light, water and soil structure and nutrition optimization are important too. Compost and compost tea can boost soil structure. Always remove pruned and dead plant material and watch for fungal or insect infestations before adding new plants to the crop.
And, that’s just the beginning. To successfully grow organic marijuana takes a thorough understanding of the plant and how to care for it. Oaksterdam University offers the most comprehensive indoor and outdoor horticultural training available.
Whether you are (or want to be) a grower or have a dispensary and want your employees to understand how to successfully grow medicinal marijuana the right way, join horticultural experts at Oaksterdam University’s world-renowned Cannabis Horticulture Seminars to Las Vegas, Nevada, March 6 to 9, 2015.
Whether you’ve been growing for years or you’re just starting out, these seminars will help you learn or confirm the best practices for growing amazing medical cannabis. Participants will learn everything from seeds and cuttings to harvest. Certification is available. Learn More.