Cannabis plants that contain high amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) are tended at a cultivation facility in Wray in May 2014. (Joe Amon, Denver Post file)

Colorado’s fourth pesticide recall: Rocky Mountain Organic Medicine

For the fourth time in less than a week state marijuana regulators have issued a health advisory and recall of pot over concerns it is contaminated with potentially dangerous pesticides not approved for use on the crop.

Wednesday’s order by the Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division involves 68 batches of medical pot grown since December 2015 at Rocky Mountain Organic Medicine Inc. in Denver and sold through its dispensary in Golden.

UPDATE: Colorado issued more state-level recalls on Thursday, for marijuana grown for Denver’s Back to the Garden and High Street Growers shops

The agency did not disclose the number of plants and products derived from them that are impacted by the recall, but said consumers should not dispose of them. Rather, they are urged to return them to the place of purchase.

Officials said the plants had tested positive for two pesticide chemicals, myclobutanil and spinosyn A, neither of which is allowed to be used on commercially grown marijuana in Colorado.

Owners of the business did not immediately respond to calls on Wednesday.

The state-issued recalls are the latest in a months-long effort by regulators to establish rules over pesticide use in growing cannabis. Though the pesticides — ranging from fungicides to miticides — have tolerance levels allowed on food, there is no independent testing to show they are safe for ingestion on marijuana.

And because pot remains illegal under federal law, which also governs how and where pesticides can be used, the two cannot legally be combined. Colorado agriculture officials, however, have determined some pesticides can be used on marijuana as long as that does not violate the product’s label dictating its allowed uses.

Industry leaders have said the pesticides are harmless because they are already allowed on food products to varying degrees. They also say they are necessary to combat diseases that can be fatal to the lucrative crops if left untreated.

Estimates have placed the value of a single mature marijuana plant at about $1,000. Cultivation facilities can hold thousands of plants at a given time at various stages of growth, and a decimated crop could easily amount into the millions of dollars.

Denver health officials have independently issued 20 recalls of pot products tainted with unapproved pesticides, but state regulators have only recently stepped up their efforts after Gov. John Hickenlooper in November issued an executive order declaring pesticide-laden marijuana a “public safety risk” and mandating its destruction.

State regulators on Friday issued their first two recalls under Hickenlooper’s order, on a pair of cultivation facilities in Colorado Springs — Dr. Releaf Inc. and High Mountain Medz.

A third order, issued Tuesday, recalled plants grown by XG Corp.’s facility in Garden City, just outside of Greeley.