Cannabis regulators have halted operations at several outdoor pot farms and processing facilities on a stretch of former fruit orchards in north-central Washington state after testing found high levels of chemicals related to a dangerous pesticide used decades ago.
The sweeping action announced Thursday night by the state Liquor and Cannabis Board renewed concerns about pesticides in marijuana and put dozens of people at least temporarily out of work just as they were preparing for spring planting.
“We are very concerned about the jobs and businesses, but we felt we needed to get a message out to our licensees and to take action for public safety,” said board spokesperson Brian Smith.
Over the last several months, officials collected samples from grow operations and processors along a nearly 5-mile stretch of the Okanogan River north of Brewster, a region of former orchards where fruit growers used the cancer-causing pesticide DDT before the U.S. banned it in 1972.
Marijuana growers in the area are now dealing with the legacy of soil contamination at the orchards.