Dear Stoner: How Can I Check My Weed for Pesticides?

Dear Stoner: How would I test marijuana for pesticides?
Mike C.

Dear Mike: Unfortunately, you can’t spot pesticides with a trained eye and handheld microscope, as you can powdery mildew, mold or spider mites. Finding chemical residue left behind by pesticides requires processes like gas chromatography or polymerase chain reaction. The former is a technique used by cannabis testing labs in Colorado; it separates compounds of marijuana by using gases such as helium or nitrogen as solvents to extract microbes and contaminants from pot samples. Polymerase chain reaction is a liquid-based test that amplifies certain DNA molecules of pot samples with fluorescent enzymes: If a molecule is high in a certain microbe or toxin, the fluorescent enzymes brighten faster.

Although as of August every commercial cultivation facility in the state must have its product tested for potency and microbes by Colorado’s cannabis labs, those tests are only done on certain samples and haven’t slowed down violations. The shops subjected to Denver pesticide quarantines were reported by inspectors from the fire and public-health departments, which have the power to investigate possible safety and quality-control violations. Growing facilities in other towns don’t fall under the same scrutiny, however, so only violations reported by occasional state inspections and the grows themselves will result in investigations. But since only state-licensed marijuana businesses are allowed to submit marijuana samples to testing labs, and liquid testing kits require significant chemistry knowledge and aren’t an economically viable option for marijuana businesses, let alone consumers, you might just have to wait this out while regulators continue to debate the pesticide issue.

Dear Stoner: I’m on probation but still want to smoke weed. Since it’s legal here, am I allowed to test positive for pot when I visit my P.O.?

Dear Dale: If you are a medical marijuana patient and weren’t arrested for a medical marijuana-related offense (illegally selling medical marijuana, for example), then, yes, you may consume medical marijuana while on probation or parole; Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill into law in May granting parolees and those on probation the right to do so. However, recreational consumption isn’t allowed while on probation or parole. Alcohol is legal in all fifty states, but it can still be banned for those on probation. Recreational marijuana is no different.
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Herbert Fuego is the resident stoner at Westword, ready to answer all your marijuana questions.
Contact: Herbert Fuego