The Trump administration has been notorious for appointing some prominent anti-marijuana officials to positions of power and this trend is continuing as the EPA Director, Scott Pruitt, created headlines this week. The longtime prohibitionist has decided to prevent the licensing of any pesticides that have been specifically formulated for growing cannabis. Where the former EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, allowed states to make their own regulations when it came to marijuana related pesticides, Pruitt is outright denying that states have any rights in the matter as marijuana is still considered to be a federally illegal drug.
Outdated Marijuana Scheduling
Marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I substance puts it in the same category as heroin and LSD. The classification requires that a substance be highly addictive, unsafe for human testing and have no medicinal value whatsoever in order to be classified in this way. Its legal status is highly questionable given its ability to help people break opioid addiction and the many studies successfully completed on humans determining its many medicinal properties. With 29 states having legalized medical marijuana and 8 states legalizing recreational marijuana, it seems past time that the law be reviewed and updated.
Denial of Pesticide Registration Requests
In July, California, Washington, Nevada and Vermont all applied to register 4 new pesticides. The pesticides came from a subsidiary of Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. Pruitt denied all requests via letter, stating that marijuana is still considered to be a federally illegal substance. There is now a concern that without regulated pesticides, growers will be free to use dangerous chemicals that may be harmful to ingest. According to Merry Jane, pesticides such as myclobutanil, which is a fungicide, gives off hydrogen cyanide when it’s burned. Dangerous chemicals such as these should be avoided by growers at all costs.
The Industry Continues Onward
Despite the setback, many cultivators are not allowing themselves to be discouraged by the decision. “It’s a minor hindrance,” says Cary Giguere, who is the agricultural resource management section chief for the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. He further explained, “It isn’t slowing the industry down, it’s not slowing states working with the industry down.” Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. has been the source of a lot of controversy in the past due to their habit of using dangerous chemicals in their products that can be harmful to both the plant life and the soil. For this reason, some marijuana advocates are not in any way disturbed by the outlawing of more pesticides. Some are relieved that there is a little more insurance against non-organic cannabis.
Either way, the Trump administration may be in over their heads when it comes to stopping the progress of marijuana reform across the country. Several bipartisan bills and even a lawsuit is in place at the moment, making efforts to legalize the plant. The majority of voters across the country lean overwhelmingly toward support of legalizing medical marijuana and approximately 60 percent are in favor of legalizing the plant altogether. Each year, more states legalize either medical or recreational marijuana.