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Alert: Massachusetts Permits the Use of Pesticides in Cannabis and Hemp Cultivation

On November 30, 2022, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (“MDAR”) updated its policy to allow the use of certain pesticides in cannabis cultivation. This new policy applies to both cannabis and hemp cultivation.

Massachusetts has long required that agricultural pesticide products be used in accordance with their labels. This resulted in the initial prohibition of pesticides in cannabis cultivation, because there were no pesticide products labeled for use on cannabis. However, the federal Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 removed hemp from the Controlled Substance list, allowing pesticide manufacturers to include hemp on the labels of Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) registered products. These change in circumstances led to MDAR’s new policy.

Under MDAR’s Pesticide Use on Marijuana Policy, pesticide products may be used in cannabis or hemp cultivation provided the following conditions are met:

1.  The product is registered with the U.S. EPA

2.  The product is registered for use in Massachusetts

3.  The product is labeled for both hemp and tobacco

– If the product has two different rates for hemp and tobacco – the applicator               must apply the lower of the two rates

4.  The product is without “Days to Harvest” for indoor use in order to address                  worker safety concerns

5.  The active ingredient is food tolerance exempt

6.  The product is labeled for use on hemp in a greenhouse if being used on                   marijuana cultivated in an indoor setting.

MDAR has not published a list of permitted products, and has made it clear that it is the responsibility of individual cultivators to ensure compliance with any MDAR or other statutory requirements concerning the use of pesticides in cannabis cultivation.

If you have any questions regarding MDAR’s updated policy or whether the application of a pesticide is compliant, please contact Julie Pruitt Barry, Chair of the Prince Lobel Environment Group, Michael Ross or John Bradley, Co-Chairs of the Cannabis Group, or any member of the Prince Lobel Cannabis Team.

With thanks to Dalton Battin for his work on this alert.

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