Last fall, Uncle Ike’s, a Seattle cannabis retailer, began random third-party testing of all of its products for pesticides or other contaminants.
Right away, one extract was found to have 1.5 times the state legal limit for Myclobutanil, a pesticide considered dangerous when combusted or inhaled.
Beyond providing good service to shoppers, the shop said it tests for pesticides because the State of Washington and many growers aren’t doing so.
This isn’t true for all growers, however. Trail Blazin’, a Tier 2 operation in Bellingham, has made product safety a priority since opening its doors in 2012.
Danielle and Juddy Rosellison originally were a home-based medical garden with four plants in the laundry room, but have expanded the business into a significant enterprise with a focus on every plant being pesticide- and microbial-free.
The growing process includes a variety of safety protocols including regular testing through Confidence Analytics, a lab in Redmond.
“All of our test results are online, we send them to all of our retailers, and they are all public on Confidence Analytics’ website. We are an open book because we want people to see that consistency from us,” said Danielle Rosellison, COO.
The pest-free precautions begin with the first step into the Trail Blazin’ production offices. To reduce any possibility of outbreaks of mites or thrips, only the cultivation staff is allowed in rooms with live plants.
Each member of the cultivation and production teams must wear scrubs, have hair covered, and leave street shoes outside.
After each harvest, a cleaning crew takes apart every apparatus in every room down to the fans for a deep clean before the next plants go in.
The cultivation area also remains closed for tours, unlike many other operations that offer access for budtenders, journalists or other guests. While this could be a let-down for for those who love the sights and smells of growing cannabis plants, it does cut down on the introduction of foreign pests.
Trail Blazin’ also exceeds current state standards to ensure that signature flavors like 9# Hammer, Cinex, and Pennywise are free of unwanted compounds.
To be compliant, a company must simply promise they didn’t use any illegal pesticides or any legal pesticides over the action limit. If they do use them, companies need to share this information on accompanying materials, but not product labels.
Trail Blazin’ tests batches from every harvest for each type of 50 pesticides and heavy metals. It’s one of the few Department of Health compliant cannabis producers. Every lot is also tested for cannabinoid and terpene content.
Now that these protocols have been developed for the cleanest possible product, Rosellison said the next goal for Trail Blazin’ is to be completely organic.
Currently, its growing practices are about 85 percent organic.
Soon, the company will be able to slap a Washington-certified organic seal on each package. That seal is important, and unfortunately, a lack of communication between retailers and producers has led to misinformation what it means.
Many products aren’t tested for pesticides on the shelf but budtenders and labels might lead consumers to believe otherwise.
Rosellison said customers can have an important role in this process in what they buy.
“If people value craft cannabis growers, if they value pesticide-free products, they need to be asking for them and keep supporting those companies,” she said.
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