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The Oregon Department of Agriculture on Friday temporarily removed a popular pesticide from its list of chemicals cannabis growers may use on their crop.
Rodger Voelker, a chemist with OG Analytical, a marijuana testing lab in Eugene, said he recently noticed that abamectin, a common insecticide, had turned up in a handful of cannabis samples submitted by growers who said they grew organically. One mentioned he used only Guardian Mite Spray. Voelker asked for a sample of the mite spray, tested it and detected abamectin, an active ingredient not listed on the product label.
Voelker alerted agriculture officials about his results on Thursday since the mite spray is included on the state’s newly released list of pesticides growers may be able to use on their plants. The product is marketed as an all natural pesticide containing products like cinnamon oil and lemon grass oil.
The state on Friday issued a bulletin “out of an abundance of caution” alerting cannabis growers to a potential labeling problem with the mite spray and advising them not to use the product and retailers not to sell it “until further notice.”
Bruce Pokarney, a spokesman for the agency, said state officials alerted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates pesticides, about the product.
Pokarney said the state on Friday bought the product from a Portland grow shop and will attempt to test it to see if it contains active ingredients not listed on the label.
“This is essentially a routine sample and testing protocol that we use in the course of a pesticide investigation,” he said in an email to The Oregonian/OregonLive.
A man identifying himself as an owner of the Illinois-based company that makes the product said it contains ivermectin, a chemical similar to abamectin. Ivermectin is not listed on the product label as required.
The man said he did not realize the product label had to include all active ingredients. He said the product has been on the market for about a year.
“We weren’t trying to pull anything,” he said. “We put it in there, and it wasn’t on the label and that’s our fault.”
Neil Bernstein, who owns Roots Garden Supply, a North Portland grow shop that serves cannabis growers, said the product was very popular among growers for its effectiveness against mites.
“This product became wildly popular because it was more effective than a harsh chemical,” he said.
Bernstein said he removed the product from his shelves on Friday.