Is Spinosad Safe For Cannabis Plants?

All you need to know about this natural insecticide.
27 October 2021
5 min read
Is Spinosad Safe For Cannabis Plants?

  • 1. What is spinosad?
  • 2. What is spinosad effective against?
  • 3. Why is spinosad banned in some countries?
  • 4. Homemade alternative to spinosad
  • 5. Spinosad most common questions
  • 6. In conclusion

Spinosad is a broad-spectrum natural insecticide found in many store-bought products and it’s used to kill a wide range of pests that can affect cannabis, from spider mites to caterpillars due to being 100% organic and super effective. But despite being completely organic it has been banned in several places around the world. So if you want to know if it’s safe for humans and plants read along!

1. What is Spinosad?

Spinosad is an organic insecticide produced when the soil bacteria Saccharopolyspora spinosa ferments two different compounds: spinosyn A and spinosyn D. After fermenting and mixing these two compounds, the final product becomes toxic and attacks the bug’s nervous system, killing bugs by contact or ingestion. Now, despite being toxic, spinosad is only toxic to smaller bugs. This means that spinosad is a good choice for dealing with the most common cannabis pests but may not be as effective against bigger bugs, which can be an advantage if you’re an organic grower and use beneficial bugs to take care of your garden.


Is spinosad safe?: what is spinosad?

Spinosad is a natural substance made by soil bacteria.

This kind of product is usually used as a foliar spray and can kill bugs within 2 days of ingestion or contact while staying effective for 24 hours outdoors and even months indoors or in a greenhouse where the product won’t get washed off by the rain. Apart from dealing with cannabis pests, spinosad is also used to deal with fleas on pets and sometimes live on humans due to being harmful to small bugs but not to humans and pets in normal applications.

2. What is Spinosad Effective Against?

Spinosad can fight off and kill the most common cannabis pests such as:

But if it’s so effective, why is it banned in some places? Well, as mentioned, spinosad is toxic to most bugs that attack cannabis but it also means that it’s toxic to all other small bugs, including those that don’t affect cannabis, such as butterflies and honey bees, for example, which is extremely bad for nature if you don't use it responsibly.


Is spinosad safe?: what is spinosad effective against?

Spinosad is super effective against most smaller bugs that affect cannabis.

Another big issue is that despite being safe for use on edible crops, meaning that you can eat the vegetables after using spinosad, there isn’t much information on how it can affect you when smoking it.

3. Why is Spinosad Banned in Some Countries?

As mentioned, spinosad is safe in regular amounts but due to not having enough evidence on the long-term effects when smoking it, spinosad has been banned for sale or commercial cannabis grows in several places. This doesn’t mean that spinosad is bad for your health but due to not knowing the potential effects, companies just want to stay safe.

Spinosad is currently banned for commercial cannabis grows in Michigan, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Washington and is completely banned for sale in Canada and Denmark. If you were looking for an organic way to deal with bugs and can’t find spinosad there’s no need to worry, Neem oil is another good alternative and if you’ve tried Neem oil and it didn’t work, read along for a super effective homemade recipe.

4. Homemade Alternative to Spinosad

Despite being organic (and highly effective) we still don’t know the possible long-term effects and that it’s more than enough for a lot of home growers and commercial cannabis growers to avoid spinosad. On top of that, there are a lot of alternatives to spinosad so if you’re looking for a broad-spectrum insecticide you may get the same results with other natural products, insecticidal soaps, or even with your own DIY alcohol mix, such as the following:

Homemade Alternative to Spinosad

Isopropyl alcohol3 tablespoons
Mint5 medium-sized leaves
Garlic juice3 tablespoons
Cinnamon2 teaspoons
Lemon juice3 tablespoons


Remember that you don’t need all the ingredients mentioned in the table, as long as you at least get the alcohol, and one ingredient more it should work but the more you add the stronger the result. So once you have the ingredients, mix all of them in a small bowl and then dilute one teaspoon per 600ml of water, preferably in a blender. 


Is spinosad safe?: homemade alternatives to spinosad

The chemcical structure of Spinosad.

After mixing you can go ahead and use it, just have in mind that this homemade alternative may be too strong for some plants so make sure to test it to one leaf before applying it to the whole plant!

5. Spinosad Most Common Questions

In case you still have more doubts about spinosad and spinosad products, here are the most common questions on how to better use and apply spinosad.

I think I used too much spinosad on my plants, what should I do to fix it?

Spinosad products will not hurt your plants unless you use huge amounts of it. This means that it probably won’t burn your plants but might clog the stomata and affect transpiration so it’s recommended to foliar spray with plain water to remove the excess.

Can I use spinosad as a soil drench?

Most spinosad products are designed to be used as a foliar spray, not as a soil drench because most of the bugs that attack cannabis are usually on the leaves and branches. If you need to use it in the soil make sure you buy a product that can be used as a soil drench.

When should I reapply spinosad?

You should reapply spinosad every 1 - 3 weeks depending on the gravity of the bug infestation.


Is spinosad safe?: do's and don'ts of spinosad

Do's and don'ts of spinosad with cannabis plants.

Will spinosad kill the beneficial bacteria and fungi in the soil if I mix it in the nutrient solution?

It might take 2 - 3 applications for the spinosad to kill the beneficial microorganisms in the soil but it will definitely kill them so make sure to respect the manufacturer’s recommendations and try to avoid using it in the soil.

I’ve heard you cannot use neem oil during flowering, can I use spinosad instead?

It’s not recommended to use spinosad after week 2-3 of flowering because it can affect the aroma and flavor of the buds, so make sure to use it during the vegetative stage to prevent bugs during flowering.

How should I apply spinosad?

In order to kill the bugs effectively, you should spray all the leaves, including the underside of the leaves. Also, remember to spray 2 hours before the lights turn OFF or spray when the lights have turned OFF. Remember that spinosad has to be ingested in order to kill the bugs so in order to kill all of them, make sure to reapply 1 week later in order to kill the newly born bugs, and if you see more bugs hatching, reapply 1 week after the second application.

6. In Conclusion

Spinosad has been used on edible crops for years due to being super effective and 100% organic but due to the lack of research when smoking it, most commercial growers are banned from using it. Because of the ban, it can be fairly hard to find spinosad products and definitely not recommended if you’re growing cannabis due to the potentially harmful long-term effects being unknown so if you’re looking for organic insecticides make sure to try Neem oil or experiment making your own homemade insecticides. Now, this doesn’t mean that using spinosad is bad for you but you want to avoid any possible health problems so we highly recommend using other organic alternatives, there are at least a few dozen products that are as effective as spinosad without the possible harmful effects.


If you've used spinosad products before feel free to share your tips and tricks in the comment section below!

27 October 2021