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King County Health Board Discusses Hidden Risk Of Pesticides In Pot

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
A man smokes a marijuana joint at a party celebrating weed Wednesday, April 20, 2016, in Seattle.

Many marijuana users might not be aware of a hidden risk in some pot products: potentially toxic pesticides. King County’s Board of Health was briefed on the issue at its monthly meeting on Thursday. 

One of the promises of legalized marijuana is regulations that make the product safer. But regulating pesticides on pot is tricky. First, because of the federal ban on marijuana, research is lacking and too little is known about the health effects when pesticides are burned and inhaled.

Washington’s Liquor and Cannabis Board opted to approve a list of those that can be used on foods without limits. But recent testing has repeatedly found pesticides the state has outlawed showing up on its legal pot. And Dr. Jeff Duchin, a health officer with Seattle King County Public Health, says the LCB’s lack of enforcement is causing concerns.  

“What you’re hearing are concerns about gaps in that system, the pace that LCB is moving forward with implementing some of these rules and the desire for no approval of pesticides at all,” Duchin told the health board.

He says growers are supposed to divulge what they’re using. He suggests consumers ask for that information. Meanwhile, King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl Welles is working on an ordinance to step up enforcement.

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