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caption: Employees at Ike's Pot Shop in Seattle, Sept. 30, 2014.
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Employees at Ike's Pot Shop in Seattle, Sept. 30, 2014.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Posey Gruener

King County proposes testing marijuana for pesticides

King County would test for certain pesticides in marijuana under a new proposal. King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles proposed the ordinance Wednesday. She said the state hasn't made marijuana testing a priority, so the county should act.


Washington's Liquor and Cannabis Board bans a number of pesticides. If pot growers are caught using them, they are fined or have to issue a recall. But testing is not required, and banned pesticides have popped up in some marijuana plants.

Jeanne Kohl-Welles said that could put some medical marijuana patients at risk. She spoke with the mother of one young girl with a severe seizure disorder.

Kohl-Welles: "The mother of this little girl said, I'm scared my daughter's health has been made worse because of the failures of our system. I think bringing attention to the violations will pressure the industry and the Liquor and Cannabis Board to be accountable."

Under the proposal, county health workers would purchase marijuana from retail stores, submit it for lab testing, and report violators to the cannabis board.

A few marijuana business owners testified that they don't oppose the idea, but worry the county's plan isn't legal. Ian Eisenberg owns Uncle Ike's in Seattle.

Eisenberg: "We also are the only store to independently test our products for pesticides. Unfortunately, our attorneys pointed out to us it is a Class-C felony for us to turn over cannabis to a testing lab: You can't share cannabis with anyone else including a testing lab."

That's because transferring marijuana to others is illegal.

The King County Council will vote on the proposal September 20. The county has not yet set a cost estimate for the program.

Meanwhile, the Liquor Control Board says requiring testing statewide is something they are looking at down the road.