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​Act 44 Amendment to Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana Law

HB 1024, now Act 44 of 2021, does not change PDA's authority over pesticides. Act 44 sets forth existing authority, related to registration of pesticides, from the Pesticide Act and establishes a process and schedule for the Secretary of Agriculture, in consultation with the Secretary of Health, to publish in the Bulletin the list of approved pesticides for use on medical marijuana crops, on a schedule outlined in the statute. The PDA maintains all authority regarding pesticide registration, labeling, label use restrictions, application, licensing, inspection and all other authority established in the Pennsylvania Pesticide Control Act of 1973 and its attendant regulations.

Medical Marijuana & Pesticide Information

Pennsylvania's legalization of Medical Marijuana has led to an interesting situation when it comes to pesticides. In order to apply a pesticide to a crop, the pesticide must be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use on the target crop. As we always say, "the label is the law," as the pesticide labeling is an extension of the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Applying a pesticide to a crop not listed on the pesticide label is a violation of FIFRA. Because marijuana is a schedule 1 narcotic under the federal Controlled Substances Act, EPA does not recognize marijuana as a crop. Thus, EPA has never registered a pesticide with marijuana as a listed crop. 

However, there are certain pesticides that are broadly labeled, and application of these products to marijuana is not expressly prohibited. Pesticides that are labeled for "Spinach, lettuce, and other leafy vegetables" may not mention all acceptable sites but are broad enough to use on endive and other crops fitting this description. Thus, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) has set policy that pesticides labeled for use on unspecified food crops or herbs are not expressly prohibited by FIFRA from being applied to marijuana. 

PDA has published a list of active ingredients that 1) are exempt from a food residue tolerance, and 2) have at least one federal registration that lists unspecified food crops on its EPA "master label" or are exempt from federal registration entirely. In addition, any pesticide used or sold in PA must be registered with PDA. Not all the active ingredients on the published list are in pesticides registered with PDA; PDA merely recognizes that an appropriately labeled pesticide containing one of these active ingredients can be used on marijuana once it is registered with the state. If a grower finds a suitable product but it is not yet registered in PA, they should reach out to the manufacturer to let them know there is demand in the state for the pesticide. Inquiries about pesticide registration can go to Daniel Duer, daduer@pa.gov 717-772-5211. 

PA Bulletin: List of Pesticides Which May Be Used by Medical Marijuana Grower and Processors 


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