Regulatory status of pesticide residues in cannabis: Implications to medical use in neurological diseases

Dorina V. Pinkhasova, Laura E. Jameson, Kendra D. Conrow, Michael P. Simeone, Allan Peter Davis, Thomas C. Wiegers, Carolyn J. Mattingly, Maxwell C.K. Leung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Medical cannabis represents a potential route of pesticide exposure to susceptible populations. We compared the qualifying conditions for medical use and pesticide testing requirements of cannabis in 33 states and Washington, D.C. Movement disorders were the most common neurological category of qualifying conditions, including epilepsy, certain symptoms of multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, and any cause of symptoms leading to seizures or spasticity. Different approaches of pesticide regulation were implemented in cannabis and cannabis-derived products. Six states imposed the strictest U.S. EPA tolerances (i.e. maximum residue levels) for food commodities on up to 400 pesticidal active ingredients in cannabis, while pesticide testing was optional in three states. Dimethomorph showed the largest variation in action levels, ranging from 0.1 to 60 ppm in 5 states. We evaluated the potential connections between insecticides, cannabinoids, and seizure using the Comparative Toxicogenomics Database. Twenty-two insecticides, two cannabinoids, and 63 genes were associated with 674 computationally generated chemical-gene-phenotype-disease (CGPD) tetramer constructs. Notable functional clusters included oxidation-reduction process (183 CGPD-tetramers), synaptic signaling pathways (151), and neuropeptide hormone activity (46). Cholinergic, dopaminergic, and retrograde endocannabinoid signaling pathways were linked to 10 genetic variants of epilepsy patients. Further research is needed to assess human health risk of cannabinoids and pesticides in support of a national standard for cannabis pesticide regulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-148
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Research in Toxicology
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Cannabis
  • Contaminant
  • Database
  • Pesticide
  • Regulation
  • Seizure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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