EPA to Reject California’s Bid for Marijuana Pesticides

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By Tiffany Stecker

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt says he will reject California’s request to allow a company to sell pesticides for cannabis plants because marijuana cultivation is illegal under federal law.

California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation asked the Environmental Protection Agency May 26 to allow the state to register four pesticides under Section 24(c) of the nation’s pesticides law, which permits a state to register a pesticide if it can demonstrate a “special local need.”

The state’s pesticide department sought permission to register four pesticides sold by General Hydroponics, a Santa Rosa, Calif.-based company under Hawthorne Gardening Co., a subsidiary of ScottsMiracle-Gro Co.

On June 22, Pruitt said he intends to reject the bid.

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, the Environmental Protection Agency can reject these requests if the pesticide in question won’t have a similar use pattern to a federally registered product. Pruitt found no parallel for a cannabis registration on the federal level.

“The EPA finds that the general illegality of cannabis cultivation makes pesticide use on cannabis a ‘fundamentally different use pattern,’” Pruitt wrote.

The agency has struggled to address a growing demand for pesticides on cannabis as more states legalize marijuana use. Seven states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing possession for recreational use, and 29 states have legalized medical marijuana. California voters last fall passed Proposition 64, which made it legal for people older than 21 years to carry and grow marijuana for personal use.

The Obama administration took a more flexible approach. In 2015, the EPA sent the Colorado Department of Agriculture a letter with guidelines for finding a federally registered product that could qualify as having a similar use pattern to a cannabis pesticide.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tiffany Stecker in Washington at tstecker@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at rdaigle@bna.com

For More Information

Pruitt's letter is available at http://src.bna.com/qop.

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