Thursday, March 3, 2016

Worker protection guidance now available to marijuana growers

Joel Kangiser
Policy Assistant, Pesticide Management Division 

Indoor marijuana growing operation
 Much attention has focused recently on pesticides in marijuana, specifically on using only appropriate, allowed pesticides. At the same time, there’s emerging concern for the safety of employees who work around pesticides. Marijuana growers are as responsible as any other crop producer for protecting their employees from pesticides exposure. 

The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) has been around for more than 20 years. Conventional agriculture is well familiar with what most refer to as WPS. For Washington state’s newly legal marijuana industry, it’s a whole new arena. 

That’s why WSDA created a guide to specifically help marijuana growers understand and comply with the WPS requirements. These are not new rules created for the industry, but existing rules that apply to the marijuana industry as much as they do to any other growers.  

The Worker Protection Standard covers such things as: 

  • Employee pesticide safety training.
    Agriculture worker receiving
    protective gear training
  • Notification of pesticide applications.
  • Decontamination supplies.
  • Personal protective equipment requirements.
  • Restrictions on entering pesticide-treated areas. 

WSDA is currently providing technical assistance to marijuana growers on the WPS requirements. Full enforcement can be expected down the road.

Even though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not authorized pesticide use specifically for marijuana, EPA’s position is that WPS applies to marijuana growers. Complying with WPS represents good business practice for the industry and its employees. Furthermore, it is required by both state and federal law, applying to marijuana growers whenever they use pesticides labeled for agricultural use. 

We at WSDA encourage growers to read the new guide and call us at 360-902-2040 with any questions.