Pubdate: Mon, 28 Mar 2016
Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Copyright: 2016 The Seattle Times Company
Author: Jeanne Kohl-Welles
Note: Jeanne Kohl-Welles is a member of the Metropolitan King County 
Council representing northwest Seattle.


AS parents, it's our absolute worst fear. For Lisa, it began when her 
6-month-old daughter Cynthia was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, a 
rare form of epilepsy.

Her child's small body would spend the next five-plus years racked 
daily by punishing, life-threatening seizures - until Lisa discovered 
that a cannabis tincture could control the neurological disease that 
would otherwise cause her daughter's death. Today, Cynthia is 9 and 
is an energetic and vivacious little girl.

When Washingtonians legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2012, 
consumers were assured safe products. But as The Seattle Times 
recently reported, fines are now being levied by the Washington State 
Liquor Cannabis Board (LCB) against two major cannabis producers for 
using illegal pesticides. I was distressed to learn one of the 
businesses in violation markets cannabis medicines for children just 
like Cynthia.

Parents of these children are very concerned. In this case, the 
cannabis producer utilized myclobutanil, a banned compound that 
releases hydrogen cyanide when heated, a substance that even minute 
traces of in the air will kill a human within 10 to 60 minutes. As 
Lisa explains, "I am scared my daughter's health has been made worse."

Because of the failures of our system, her cure could be worse than 
the disease.

These violators were only discovered through consumer complaints and 
public-record requests, not because of the LCB's safety measures. New 
reports indicate illegal pesticides may be rampant in the legal 
system, likely because the LCB relies primarily on producer 
self-reporting and on-site random inspections without also requiring 
pesticide testing of the consumable product.

The LCB's inadequate regulation of the state's approved testing labs 
is another roadblock to safe cannabis. An independent analysis has 
shown wide variation between the labs' results - some labs never find 
contaminated product and other labs find contaminated product nearly 
half the time. The LCB has no system to ensure these different labs 
are all calibrated alike and testing fairly. It's no surprise that 
the labs approving all products have the most clients, nearly 
guaranteeing the flow of contaminated product into the hands - and 
lungs - of consumers and patients, adults and children alike.

Washington currently allows the usage of more than 200 pesticides, 
even though the health effects from inhaling or ingesting pesticides 
on cannabis and cannabis products are unclear. The U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency has not yet approved any pesticides for the 
production of cannabis, although it has offered to fast-track the 
research and testing in this area. As of yet, no state, including our 
own, has accepted the EPA's offer. Cannabis, as a federally 
prohibited product, has no established guidelines for determining 
safe pesticide levels.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, King County's public-health officer, has said, 
"Because marijuana is often smoked or vaped and little is known about 
the effects of inhaled pesticides, it is important to learn more 
about the health effects of pesticide exposure both through 
inhalation as well as through ingestion of marijuana products."

King County government is limited by state law, so our communities 
have to rely on the LCB and other state agencies to ensure safety for 
cannabis consumers and patients. Nevertheless, I am requesting Public 
Health - Seattle and King County to adopt a resolution calling on the 
state to enforce regulation and protect our citizens. I urge us all 
to call upon Gov. Jay Inslee to make it a priority that state 
agencies research and then establish the safest standards for 
pesticides and cannabis - taking the EPA up on its offer to assist - 
and then fully and uniformly enforce these standards.

The health of our citizens, including kids like Cynthia, remains in 
the balance. We can and must do better.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom