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Council committee discusses steps to keep pesticides out of cannabis


County would set up program to test for prohibited pesticides in marijuana stores


The Metropolitan King County Council’s Health, Housing and Human Services Committee heard from the County’s Chief Medical Officer and other health experts on the proposed legislation to establish a prohibited pesticides testing program for marijuana retailers.

“I asked for this ordinance in order to ensure that consumers in King County are protected from banned pesticides in their cannabis products,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, the sponsor of the legislation and chair of the Health, Housing and Human Services Committee. “The state is not conducting regular testing of retail marijuana products to determine whether and where these harmful substances are being sold to consumers. This issue is especially important in light of the minimal amount of research that has been conducted on the health impacts of pesticides in marijuana – especially since those impacts may vary when the substance is inhaled.”

The goal of the ordinance is to ensure that marijuana products being sold in King County do not contain banned pesticides and to make consumers aware of the chemicals going into their bodies when using pot and pot-based products.

Dr. Jeffrey Duchin King County’s Chief Medical Officer, was joined by Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, MultiCare Institute of Research and Innovation, in speaking to the committee on the potential threat to public health and safety caused by prohibited pesticides in marijuana products being available at retail marijuana stores. Those using marijuana for medical conditions could be impacted by the pesticides used in the cultivation and processing of marijuana.

Voters supported the legalization of recreational use of marijuana in 2012 with the adoption of Initiative 502, and marijuana and other cannabis-based products have been available to medical patients prior to the passage of I-502.

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) has been charged with creating the rules and regulations for marijuana and enforcing those rules, including the use of pesticides in growing marijuana. While the LCB established the rules on the use of pesticides, the board has not established a system for enforcing the regulations on prohibited pesticides.

Under the proposed legislation, a new program in the Seattle & King County Department of Public Health would obtain marijuana products from licensed marijuana retailers and test those products for prohibited pesticides.

Public Health would create a website to inform the public about products that were purchased from county retail stores that contain prohibited pesticides, and would also provide the results to the LCB.

The committee is expected to act on the legislation at its September 20 meeting.
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