Growing Opportunities From Problems

Exclusive MJNN Report by Dr. Rick Freeman

The emerging marijuana industry is all about innovation  – just like its underground parent was.  The very idea of legal weed is innovative, not to speak of all the ingenious growing and processing techniques and accouterments.  Innovators are growing this industry into a whole new world, applying adaptive, creative thinking to problem-solving and far beyond.   When meeting a challenge, the innovator goes beyond fixing the immediate problem to address the dysfunction that generates the problem in the first place.  The innovator transforms problems into opportunities and creates value in the process.

In this sense, the marijuana industry faces a giant opportunity – an opportunity that might seem like a problem.  The “problem” side of the opportunity is our recent bad press for being caught – repeatedly – selling pesticide-tainted products.  Colorado growers have attracted the most attention, and the press isn’t just local.  Here’s a doozie from the Huffington Post:  “Dangerous Pesticides Are Being Found in Colorado’s Weed.”  Here’s a story (separate incident) from USA Today: “Denver Halts Some Pot Sales Over Bug Spray Worries.”  Ugly.

But, that’s only the “problem” side of the equation.  The opportunity side offers an encouraging vision.  Please let me tell.

First of all, bad press is press, and it is free press.  Free press means free publicity, and publicity is a marketing asset.  In the end, people are looking, and they’re looking at us.  Some are seeking information; some are merely curious.  Others are lapping up evidence to support their contempt for marijuana; others for their unflagging support.  But, all of them are wondering what comes next, and hence, my next point.

In our hands we hold a juicy, engaging and unfinished story that is ours to complete.  If we don’t write the rest of the story, someone else will.   Better it be us.  And, that story has to carry a load.  It has to regain the trust of a large group of consumers who believe that buying marijuana in retail stores is risky.  Plus, it has to make consumers feel good about the industry and the social and environmental good that it’s doing.  And, of course, the story has to be interesting.

Fortunately for us, we have that story.  Our story is teeming with life, complexity and potential.  It’s about pairing marijuana agriculture with ecological pathways to grow clean, high-quality pot at commercial scale – sustainably and profitably.   It features designed agro-systems that mimic and interact with natural ecologies – systems with numerous advantages.  These systems invite natural pest-enemies to thwart mites and other pests, and they grow super-productive soils that accumulate organic matter and disease-thwarting biodiversity.   Through time, productivity and resiliency increase, and the systems require less effort to maintain – the reverse of conventional agro-stories.  What’s more, as scale increases, natural resiliency and natural defense mechanisms become more robust.  On the operations side, well-designed systems optimize labor, equipment and material flows, trimming wasted labor hours and saving tremendous costs over the years.  In this story, the grower combines ecological function with operational function to sustain the agro-system over decades.

This story of clean, sustainably-grown commercial marijuana has yet to be told.  It’s yet a vision for the future that combines the best of what we know with a bold optimism, and it is only one of many possible story lines that are emerging in the industry.  It’s really up to us to determine which story line we want to read about when we sit down to read the news – and what kind of products we want to eat or smoke at 4:20.

Denver Marijuana Company Recalls Product, 13th Recall In City In 13 weeks

COLORADO: A Denver-based marijuana company has recalled 27 cartridges of its THC-infused vape pen oil due to potentially dangerous pesticides.

Denver’s Department of Environmental Health found that Advanced Medical Alternatives’ product contained pesticides that are not allowed to be used on cannabis in Colorado, reported The Cannabist, The Denver Post’s cannabis news and culture section.

The recall is the 13th issued by the department in 13 weeks. Advanced Medical Alternatives recalled a cannabis concentrate product that also had high levels of banned pesticides on Dec. 3.

Gov. Hickenlooper Orders Pesticide-Tainted Marijuana Destroyed

COLORADO:  Colorado’s governor ordered the destruction Thursday of marijuana treated with unapproved pesticides, his first action on the matter after months of product recalls and media warnings about unhealthy pesticides on pot.

The executive order by Gov. John Hickenlooper called marijuana treated with certain pesticides a “threat to public safety” and said it should be destroyed.

The governor acknowledged that there’s scant scientific evidence about which pesticides and fungicides are safe to use on marijuana, but he said that questionable pot should be destroyed until more is known.

“When a pesticide is applied to a crop in a manner that is inconsistent with the pesticide’s label, and the crop is contaminated by that pesticide, it constitutes a threat to the public safety,” the order said.

Colorado Marijuana Users Sue Grower Over Fungicide

COLORADO: Two Colorado marijuana users have sued a cannabis grower claiming a “patently dangerous” agricultural fungicide that becomes poisonous when ignited was applied without their knowledge to pot plants they later smoked, court documents showed on Monday.

Brandan Flores and Brandie Larrabee allege that distributor and retailer LivWell has for years applied Eagle 20, a fungicide that contains the chemical myclobutanil, to its marijuana crop.

The fungicide is approved for certain edible agricultural crops, but not for smokable products such as tobacco, according to the complaint filed in Denver District Court.

Pot Products Recalled, Pot Shop Fires Employee For Unapproved Pesticides

COLORADO: Jeremy Kilbourne dropped off a box of jars filled with marijuana. The marijuana could sell for thousands of dollars, but not now.

The inventory from Kilbourne’s marijuana shop on Evans Avenue, Sacred Seed, is being tested to make sure it does not have unapproved pesticides in it. A company called Mahatma tested another batch last Monday and discovered it had unapproved pesticides.

(credit: CBS)


Pesticides Still Being Found In Denver Marijuana Products, Six Months After Official Crackdown

COLORADO: Pesticides are still being found in marijuana products sold in Denver nearly six months after an official crackdown, an investigation has revealed.

The unapproved pesticides were found in concentrated marijuana products following tests carried out by the Denver Post.

Denver health officials said any trace of a disallowed pesticide in marijuana products was a cause for concern.

“This information indicates a significant public health concern,” said Danica Lee, food safety section manager in the public health inspections division of Denver’s Department of Environmental Health.