- Posted by LeagleTeam
- On June 11, 2015
- 0 Comments
- cannabis, denver, indica, organic, pesticide, sativa
In the past couple of months (and likely due to new enforced regulations – Learn More ) L’Eagle’s seen increased interest from consumers who want to understand the definitive meaning of organic and pesticide-free
To start, let’s clarify the definitions of: 1) organic* and 2) pesticide-free* as they relate to cannabis. Please note that this is a brief overview and not meant to cover all of the specific scientific intricacies and complexities of the two.
Organic food farming, in general uses cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that conserve biodiversity, are environmentally sustainable, and when these organic food products are delivered to the consumer, they are free of synthetic nutrients, and synthetic pesticides. Organic cultivation of food and produce does allow for very limited low toxicity or biological pesticides and fertilizers, but all of these are rigorously reviewed and cleared for safety by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) or a USDA- approved organic certifier in the cannabis industry, “organic” is an unregulated word. Although consumers can trust the word organic when it’s advertised on produce and food because of USDA regulatory oversight, the USDA and FDA has yet to recognize the cannabis industry because the crop is illegal federally. “Organic” in the Cannabis industry can often refers to the plant being grown in “soil” (actually a soil-less potting soil composed of peat and perlite, as apposed to hydroponically grown. Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are often used in “soil-grown” Cannabis.
So, what does this mean? Well, until there is enforcement of the term or some way to authenticate cultivation practices (keep your radar up for Organic Cannabis Association), its just a brand-able marketing word that curries favor with consumers who believe the same federal organic standards apply to marijuana. You’ll see it on a sign, in an advertisement, or hear it as part of a bud tender’s sales pitch. It is up to you as a consumer to ask the right questions and learn more about the entity making the claim. At L’Eagle, organic means growing responsibly, with an environmentally sustainable method, that is safe and free of synthetics. We mirror organic food production standards. How? By employing as our lead cultivators only degreed agricultural or environmental scientists who have relevant career experience with USDA organic food production.
There is really a two part definition for pesticide-free. A pesticide is a chemical or biological agent that kills, incapacitates and/or discourages a disease, bacteria,mold or mildew, or insect. Pesticides is an umbrella term that includes: insecticide, miticides (eg. spider mites), fungicides (eg. powdery-mildew), and herbicides. Pesticide-free means that even if a pesticide –whether toxic or OMRI certified– was used, there is no residual, even a trace amount, present in the final product.
The pesticides that the City of Denver is taking issue with are both highly toxic and systemic. A systemic is a chemical that is designed to be absorbed by the plant and translocated to all parts of the plant. One spray can provide more than a month of protection, because the toxin infiltrates the plant kills the target pest if it tries to attack any part the plant. This means that there is likely toxic residue in the buds even if the pesticide was sprayed in the vegetative cycle. The opposite of a systemic is a contact insecticide, which requires the pest to be contacted with the actual spray, and it is not absorbed by the plant.
While reviewing pesticides, it’s useful to clarify why they are even a point of discussion when it comes to cannabis cultivation, particularly since most cannabis is currently grown indoors. One might imagine that with indoor growth, the ability to control the environment would eliminate the need for using anything at all. Unfortunately, this is not the case.Insects, molds, fungi, they’ll find a way, and a few actually thrive indoors. The best steps at avoiding pesticides are preventative measures, these might include: generous plant spacing, additional labor hours for pruning and scouting, treatments of safe neem oil-based products or insecticidal soaps, excellent airflow, high priced dehumidification systems or other mechanical aids. At some point, whether it is in a home grow or at a large scale warehouse and despite all the best efforts at preventative plant health care, a crop will meet an unwanted visitor. A change in humidity (think about Denver’s three week spring rainstorm), a pest that breeched the sterility of the grow (via shoe or other), a freak variation in ph, or some other disappointment. What steps will be taken then? The grower has a couple of choices. There’s the easy option, spray and/or fog with a harsh (not illegal) toxic chemical pesticides regardless of where the plant is in the growth cycle or, there’s the L’Eagle way- costly hours of human labor, pricey biological treatments, culling plants when needed and all of the front end investment into preventative mechanical equipment.
Given the definitions above, how can you as the consumer know you are making the right choices for yourself? Until there is strict regulation and reliable pesticide testing, it’s up to you to ask questions of your dispensary– Who is your grower?, Is their scientific background in agriculture or horticulture?, Do they have experience with USDA organic agriculture or food production?, What is your cultivation facilities method for pesticides and plant health?). Conduct your own research, stay up to date with cannabis educational outlets like the Organic Cannabis Association, and above all else, be discerning. It a high, let’s make sure it’s a healthy high and treat yourself to the best.
*Definitions listed are much more complex that what was summarized in this short article. Hyperlinks were inserted but for more information, consult the internet if you are looking for more information, and please feel free to email specific questions or comments to L’Eagle.