Pubdate: Mon, 02 May 2016
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2016 The Denver Post Corp
Authors: Ricardo Baca and David Migoya


The Industry Is Intensifying Its Battle Against Pesticide Rules.

The Colorado marijuana industry is stepping up its fight against the 
state's efforts to regulate the application of pesticides on cannabis.

After passing in the state House, a bill that would have codified 
Gov. John Hickenlooper's November executive order - telling state 
agencies that any marijuana grown with unapproved pesticides is a 
threat to public safety and should be removed from commerce and 
destroyed-died in a state Senate committee last week.

Thosewho successfully voted the bill down in the state Senate 
Veterans & Military Affairs committee described Hickenlooper's vision 
as "unreasonable" and "unconstitutional."

"It is my position that government should not take someone's private 
property and destroy it," said Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R- Sterling. 
"The property owner should be able to see if there are other avenues 
to dispose of the plants, and it should be their responsibility to 
destroy their own property. ... I also think that it is unreasonable 
to have a zero limit rather than an acceptable limit according to 
like plants and uses."

Added Sen. Owen Hill, R- Colorado Springs: "Government is abusing and 
overstepping its power when they are destroying agricultural crops. 
This bill would have furthered unconstitutional government 
destruction of private property."

Hickenlooper's top cannabis official called the bill's failure 
"disappointing" and said the state will continue with its enforcement 
actions, including its more than 20 pesticide-based recalls of 
marijuana in less than 10 weeks.

"Pesticide use is a public health issue, and we wanted clear 
enforcement penalties and due process provided by the legislature," 
said Andrew Freedman, Colorado's director of marijuana coordination. 
"We'll continue to enforce proper pesticide use to protect consumer 
and worker safety under the Pesticide Applicators' Act and other 
existing statutory authority.

"Absent this legislation, the governor's ( executive order) remains in place."

Cannabis industry insiders have said the existing law offers them no 
due process, allowing the government to come into their cultivations 
and destroy their valuable crops and giving the industry no leeway to 
challenge the testing and ruling.

Marijuana businesses Edi Pure and Organa Labs are appealing their 
recalls by the city of Denver's Department of Environmental Health, 
which has also recalled cannabis on more than 20 different occasions 
over pesticide concerns. In such cases, businesses and their 
attorneys make their case in front of the Board of Environmental Health.

Neither city appeal has yet concluded.

A representative with the state Department of Revenue, which houses 
the Marijuana Enforcement Division, said there's a similar appeals 
process on the state level - but could not comment on businesses that 
might be appealing their recalls because they are ongoing investigations.

A determination that there was a pesticide violation can be appealed 
to the Colorado Department of Agriculture, said DOR communications 
director Lynn Granger.

Several industry officials celebrated the bill's demise last week.

"We are continuing to work for responsible, fair regulation. That is 
a win for us and consumers," said Michael Elliott, executive director 
of the Marijuana Industry Group. "Responsible regulation creates 
certainty for industry and reassures consumers that the products are safe."

Cannabis industry attorney Sean McAllister called Hickenlooper's 
executive order a "feel-good proclamation" and said he was glad to 
see the related bill get voted down.

"We don't need political proclamations to set policy-we need science 
to set policy," McAllister said."We really need the hardwork and 
expertise of the state agencies like the Department of Agriculture, 
like the health department, like the MED."

McAllister said he and others in the industry are meeting with the 
three state agencies addressed in Hickenlooper's executive order - 
the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Public Health and 
Environment and the Marijuana Enforcement Division.

"I believe the agencies understand that the approach to date has had 
a lot of problems, and we're working on a new approach to both 
satisfy the concerns of the agency and also address the concerns of 
the industry," McAllister said. "I think we're getting closer to an 
agreement on howto handle this so it'll be better going forward."

DOR's Granger said she could not comment on any conversations between 
the agency and the industry because of open investigations.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom