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  • Alec Chenkus

Why Ohio Medical Marijuana Is Safer: Restrictions On Plant Growth Regulators, or PGRs

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

Marijuana Plants Being Grown Inside with Lights Hanging Over
Marijuana Being Cultivated Indoors

Not all cannabis plants are created equal. To many marijuana enthusiasts, that goes without saying. But there many patients who are not even aware that there are multiple strains of cannabis, nor are they yet educated on the potential hazards of non-medical cannabis.

While many people have no problem enjoying black market, or unregulated, marijuana, it can pose numerous dangers to medical marijuana patients. It can even exasperate or cause further harm to a patient's overall health and well-being. That is why Ohio Marijuana Card's own, Alec Chenkus, is here to discuss a growing concern among the cannabis cultivation community -- the use, overuse and dangers of cannabis growth using PGRs, or plant growth regulators. Like cannabis plants, not all PRGs are created equal, and through some may yield thick buds, others may do more harm than good.

Understanding Plant Growth Regulators

While most people are familiar with GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, few people are aware of marijuana’s version of GMOs - PGRs, or plant growth regulators. PGRs are hormone-like chemicals that occur naturally in plants, and play key roles in seed germination, root growth, stem elongation, leaf expansion, and fruit ripening/dropping.

There are two types of PGR’s, naturally derived (organic) and chemically derived (synthetic). Natural PRGs are generally made of organic compounds like seaweed, and inspire growth in the plant. According to Growers Guild, "chemically derived hormones aim to either interfere with synthesis and hormone breakdown or mimic pre-existing hormones. This interference often encourages denser growth, shorter growth cycles and higher yields - good for the revenues of black market growers and dealers, bad for the patient ingesting that plant. The most common PGRs are Paclobutrazol (PBZ), Daminozide (a.k.a. Alar), and Chlormequat Chloride."

Chemical Structure of Daminozide (PGR)
Daminozide, a banned PGR containing harmful carcinogens.

Dangers of PGRs

The two compounds of concern in the cannabis world are PBZ and Daminozide. According to Friendly Aussie Buds, "combustion of PBZ results in the compound breaking down into nitrosamines, which happen to be one of the most carcinogenic compounds in cigarettes! These chemicals were found as unlisted, unregistered ingredients in the following cannabis fertilizers: Bushmaster, Gravity, Flower Dragon, TopLoad, PhosphoLoad, and Bush Load." Most of these fertilizers have been banned in California, one of the leading states in EPA-safety standards.

Some chemically-derived PGRs are known to cause cancer, infertility, poison the liver, and are classified as environmental pollutants, according to the Durango Cannabis Company. For this reason, several PGRs were banned for use in the late 1980s by the Environmental Protection Agency as it was estimated exposure to these PGRs could result in a cancer risk 240 times greater than considered acceptable by the EPA. While these PGRs were made illegal in the food industry, the cannabis industry has avoided scrutiny of PGR use thus far.

Healthy Marijuana Grown Without PGR on the Left and Harmful Marijuana Grown with PGR on Right
Cannabis exposed to PGRs grows short and more uniform with denser flower that have an abundance of orange hairs and poor flavor. [Source: RxLeaf]

What Else Do Cultivators Use?

According to a study published in the NCBI, optimistic alternatives include Chitosan and Triacontanol. Chitosan is found in the exoskeletons of crustaceans and is a vastly abundant biodegradable material. When chitosan is applied as foliar or soil drench to plants, it has been found to exhibit PGR qualities.

NASA has also taken an interest, experimenting with chitosan to aid plant growth in space! Triacontanol, on the other hand, is a natural plant growth stimulant found in a variety of natural sources such as alfalfa meal, sugarcane, and beeswax. It is non-toxic, environmentally friendly and safe to consume. Studies have shown the application of triacontanol as foliar feed increased yields dramatically compared to control groups.

Ohio Growing Regulations

Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program Logo
Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program

Meanwhile, for cultivators involved in the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, the rules and regulations surrounding pesticide and fertilizer use are comprehensive and strenuous.

According to OMMCP's guidelines a cultivator must "submit and maintain a quality assurance and quality control plan for the cultivation of medical marijuana in its facility."

OMMCP also outlines that the "purpose of this plan is to ensure a safe, consistent product supply and minimize the deviation in quality of the production batches of medical marijuana. Any proposed changes must be submitted to the State for review."

Below is a detailed overview of the state's strict guidelines:

The State, with assistance from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, maintains an approved list of permitted pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals. A cultivator that uses any approved pesticides, fertilizers, or other chemicals during the cultivation process must meet the following requirements:

  1. The pesticides must be registered with the Ohio Department of Agriculture and meet one of the following requirements: Registered with the United States EPA, or; Exempt from registration and the active inert ingredients of the pesticide product are authorized for use on crops or plants intended for human consumption by the U.S. EPA.

  2. Any specialty fertilizer must be registered with the Ohio Department of Agriculture

  3. The cultivator must comply with all posting requirements of the standard protection language stated on the label, and must include a record of all pesticide, fertilizer, or other chemical applications will be maintained and provide:

  • Date and time of application;

  • Stage of activation process;

  • Date when the plants in application area were moved to the flowering stage, if applicable;

  • United States EPA registration number, if applicable;

  • Analysis of the fertilizer applied;

  • Application site, which shall be identified by the location legend maintained by the cultivator;

  • Name of the product being applied;

  • Amount applied;

  • Unique plant identifier or other information that identifies which plants received the application;

  • Size of application area;

  • Name of the individual making the application; and

  • Comments or special conditions related to the application.

Feel Confident at Ohio Dispensaries!

Outline of the State of Ohio with Marijuana Picture Inside and Text Saying Marijuana is Medicine
Medical Marijuana is Now Legal in Ohio!

What this exhaustive testing means for patients is that you can feel confident in buying your medication from an Ohio medical marijuana dispensary knowing it has been tested meticulously.

If the cannabis grown by Ohio cultivators does not pass state regulations, that product will be destroyed. This fact alone is a convincing incentive for cultivators to ensure they are implementing the highest-quality standards of practice in their harvests.


If you are an Ohioan suffering from one of these 21 medical conditions you may be eligible to treat your ailment with medical marijuana, which includes both CBD and THC products, including dry flower.

Click here to learn more about what Ohio Marijuana Card's state-certified medical marijuana doctors can do for you, or give us a call at 1-866-457-5559 and our friendly support team can walk you through the entire process, and set you up with an appointment.

Also, be sure to check out our latest episode of Ohio Marijuana Pod!


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