Marijuana consumers have long proselytized for their drug of choice with the notion that it’s nature’s herb. Weed is of the Earth; it grows naturally, and so is relatively clean compared to synthetic concoctions like cocaine, say.

That’s true-ish.

Marijuana is illegal on a federal level in the US, and legal to varying degrees in 29 states and Washington DC, so it’s in an agricultural gray zone. Cultivation is not regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, nor is pesticide use guided by Department of Agriculture standards. So marijuana growers have no guidance and operate outside the confines of federal law in this regard.

For growers, this is one advantage of weed’s illegality: they can use chemicals with abandon, and do. This allows for more weed to grow bigger and quicker. States have been slow to catch up—even California, which has had a medical marijuana program in place for two decades, is only now planning to regulate pot growers’ pesticide use starting in January 2018, when weed becomes legal recreationally.

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