FERN Shines Spotlight on Regulatory Void and Looming Public-Health Crisis in Legal Weed Industry

In October 2015, “With No U.S. Standards, Pot Pesticide Use Is Rising Public Health Threat” was produced for broadcast and online in collaboration with Rocky Mountain PBS I-News. Reporters Erica Berry, of FERN, and Katie Wilcox, of I-News, found a glaring absence of oversight on the marijuana industry. Their work was the top story of a rolling 30-day period surrounding its publication on the I-News site in terms of traffic.

I-News distributes its stories to news partners and other institutions including all members of the Colorado Press Association, public radio and commercial TV stations, some schools and university addresses, and several foundations and businesses. The promotional campaign for our story received interest from 50% of this audience. It was the lead story in their newsletter, Rocky Mountain PBS I-News Weekly, an opt-in subscription list of RMPBS members which has 1,100 subscribers. The story was also featured on their weekly public affairs television show, Colorado State of Mind, on Oct. 2. It drew an audience of 5,557 households.

In the wake of the story, Jim Jones, who heads the EPA’s office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, reached out to I-News. He said his office had gotten specific approval from the Justice Department to begin working with states that had legalized marijuana cultivation to test which pesticides can be used safely on marijuana.

Read the Story