The Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources (MDAR) changed its “Pesticide Use of Marijuana Policy” to allow the use of certain pesticides on cannabis plants if specific requirements are met.

When Massachusetts legalized adult-use cannabis in 2017 (following Question 4’s passage in the 2016 election), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “did not allow the use of a registered pesticide on cannabis or hemp because there were no products labeled for such use.” Therefore, Massachusetts prohibited the use of pesticides on cannabis or hemp, MDAR explained in a recent policy memo.

Following passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the 2018 Farm Bill), which legalized hemp at the federal level, pesticide manufacturers amended pesticide labels to include hemp, and there are now EPA-registered pesticide products that include hemp, according to the policy memo.

The MDAR wrote in the memo, “MDAR understands that the difference between hemp and marijuana is a legal one and that both originate from the same plant and in many cases are being produced, manufactured, and used for the same purposes (i.e., topical, edible, smokable). Because hemp and marijuana are both cannabis and only distinguished through law by the THC level, MDAR will allow the use on hemp to extend to marijuana as well,” if all of the following conditions are met:

The product must be registered with the EPA;The product must be registered for use in Massachusetts;If a product has two different rates for hemp and tobacco, the applicator must use the lower of the two rates;The product must be without “Days to Harvest” for indoor use to address worker safety concerns for indoor use;The active ingredient must be food tolerance exempt; andIf the product is being used on cannabis cultivated in an indoor setting, it must be labeled for use on hemp in a greenhouse.

The policy change went into effect Nov. 30.