After decades of struggle, marijuana legalization is finally sweeping the land – now, with the expansion of cannabis, we must be careful both as consumers and as businesses to not allow the industry to put profits above the health and wellbeing of the people.
Consumers must take the lead in holding the marijuana industry – including growers, dispensaries and brands – to high moral and business standards in order to safeguard the health of marijuana users in whatever form it is consumed.
As marijuana becomes industrialized, we need to stay vigilant about the way companies use harmful pesticides to maximize and safeguard their financial investments. We have seen this story before: as industries get larger and larger, and profits grow and grow, the welfare of consumers becomes secondary to the profits of those industries. If this were to happen to cannabis, it would defeat the spirit of the plant itself. We'd be left with nothing but another mass-produced product to be wary of.
The harmful effects of pesticides in our food chain have already been proven to be a health hazard. We are extremely cautious about what we put into our bodies when it comes to produce, and we must use the same scrutiny when it comes to the consumption of cannabis.
As of now, the dispensaries, growers and brands who are leading the capitalization of marijuana are generally not addressing how pesticides affect those who consume the plant. Personally, my peers and I have discussed the seemingly different effects, taste, smell of certain cannabis "products" from various origins – and those conversations have made me very cautious about what I put into my body. I have fallen on the side of caution and abstinence when it comes to marijuana: unless I can know for sure that no harmful pesticides or artificial enhancements were used, I won't consume it in any form.
There are two solutions I see: One is for consumers to demand that dispensaries, growers and brands be forthright and honest if pesticides were used, and be transparent about what kind of pesticides were used in the growing and or making of cannabis-based products. Secondly, the most effective way to avoid potentially poisoning yourself with pesticides is to grow and use your own.
Until we can be certain that the benefits of marijuana aren’t being diminished by pesticides – for example, that these pesticides aren't changing the natural makeup and benefits of the plant – being strict about only using pesticide-free marijuana is the only option.
There is no better time to act than now. We must hold this emerging industry responsible from the start. We cannot wait until it becomes more established, because by that time, it will be too late. It is up to us, the people, to make sure the people's plant doesn't actually cause people pain. Ask questions and demand answers, and let those in the industry know that you will not accept anything that includes pesticides. And if all else fails, grow your own.
Ziggy Marley is releasing his seventh solo studio album, Rebellion Rises, on May 18th.