Since 2016, cannabis intended for sale in Oregon has to be tested for contamination of pesticides based on requirements added to the recreational program by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), but the requirement was lowered and only a minimum of one-third of usable cannabis was required for testing. Now, all usable cannabis must be tested per the organization’s new rules. The rules not only regulate how much of certain chemicals and pesticides can be found in flower and concentrates, the OHA and state lawmakers have created requirements within that ruling, which force growers to destroy crop that tests above certain levels. The requirement was lowered and only a minimum of one-third of useable cannabis was required for testing. Now, all usable cannabis must be tested per the organization’s new rules.
On August 11, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission issued a notice to cannabis businesses explaining that beginning August 30, “every batch of usable marijuana must be tested directly for pesticides.”
Dispensaries are only allowed to accept cannabis from grow operations that have a certificate proving the crop passed testing requirements. With so much uncertainty, many growers are going all organic and eliminating the hassle of worrying about pesticide testing altogether.
“So, just as the organic food trend is growing, so is the trend for organic marijuana. You will always be able to find processed foods, but I believe that in the marijuana industry, all product is eventually going to have to be organic.”
Doug Mairs, the Operations Supervisor and Sales Manager of Circle M Farms in Oregon, is at the forefront of the organic cultivation industry. His goal is to spread the word about organic cannabis cultivation and how worm castings are nature’s immunity boosters for cannabis plants. Doug spoke with CULTURE about the effect Oregon’s new cannabis testing regulations will have on the industry, and how organic growing is soon to be the new normal. “The industry here in Oregon is new and it has some regulations, but when it comes to safety and health regulations, it’s kind of lacking,” Mairs told CULTURE. “People care more about what they are consuming and they are more health conscious than ever. So, just as the organic food trend is growing, so is the trend for organic marijuana. You will always be able to find processed foods, but I believe that in the marijuana industry, all product is eventually going to have to be organic.”
If a test batch of cannabis tests higher than the allowable limits when the grower takes it in for required pesticide testing, the grower then has to destroy the entire batch of cannabis. Cultivators in the industry could lose an entire crop if they choose to use a little too much chemical pesticide on their plants. This would result in a huge loss of money, and even potentially put a smaller grow operation out of business. Growing organically eliminates this risk, which is one of the main factors driving the popularity of organic cannabis grows in Oregon. OAR 333-064-0100 , one of Oregon’s 17 new testing rules. calls for testing facilities to also ensure that cannabis crop is within acceptable THC and CBD limits for sale to the public.
For consumers, this means a much safer product. It won’t be like going to the produce section and picking out organically grown vegetables over the others—all cannabis sold in Oregon’s market will be organic. Many of the products previously produced and sold in Oregon dispensaries have been made using cannabis grown with pesticides. According to Mairs, and many other Oregon growers, pesticides are not a cost effective form of pest control. Growing organic can save those in the cannabis industry a lot of money. It’s also much better for the soil and the environment as a whole. Although the new testing requirements in Oregon were just set into place this past year, growing organic cannabis has been a growing trend for a long time. As Oregonians are interested in more healthy and organic foods, they are also looking for healthy and organic cannabis.
As more and more cannabis growers turn to worm castings instead of synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers, Mairs and others in the industry will continue to provide pure and natural alternatives. Growing organically has long been an Oregon trend, and cannabis consumers can now look forward to seeing more and more organic cannabis on dispensary shelves.