Court Ruling Upholds Montgomery County Pesticide Ban

Court Ruling Upholds Montgomery County Pesticide Ban

Montgomery County (Md.) closer to implementing first-ever ban by a major jurisdiction on the use of cosmetic pesticides on lawns.


***edited on May 8 with additional background information****

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Montgomery County (Md.) is one step closer to implementing its prohibition on the use of cosmetic pesticides on lawns following a May 2 ruling by a Maryland appeals court. This decision could have implications for pest management professionals involved in the lawn care market.

On May 2, the Maryland Court of Special Appeal in Montgomery County, Maryland v. Complete Lawn Care, et. al., found valid the county’s 2015 ban on outdoor pesticide use on private property by residents and professionals.That ban did not apply to agricultural land and golf courses, and it would not have stopped the sale of lawn pesticides in the county. The ban was supposed to take place in 2018, but it was put on hold after a coalition of residents, businesses and the trade group Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE), filed a 2016 lawsuit.

Both RISE and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) shared concerns over the May 2 ruling. In NPMA's May 3 Policy Week in Review enewsletter, the association wrote: "Although structural pest control uses are exempt, this ruling is very problematic, as it sets a precedent of a locality banning specific products that have already been approved for use by the EPA, setting up a patchwork of regulation. If this ruling is allowed to stand, we expect to see other counties in Maryland and states without preemption look to attempt something similar."

RISE issued a statement saying it disagreed with the decision, which the trade group said failed to consider the strong opinion issued by the Circuit Court for Maryland in 2017, finding the county ban was illegal under existing state law and the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s comprehensive pesticide regulatory program.

“We believe the county’s ban on consumer and professional pesticide use on private property is preempted by existing state law and we are disappointed with the decision of the Court of Special Appeals given the well-reasoned opinion of the lower court, which found the county’s ban to be preempted by existing state law,” the RISE statement read. “We remain concerned that this local pesticide regulation undermines the state’s authority in regulating pesticides and ensuring they are used properly and safely throughout the state. The necessary expertise and enforcement capability are provided by Maryland Department of Agriculture.”

RISE added that it is “currently evaluating next steps to help ensure that each Montgomery County resident has the right to decide for herself or himself whether to use pesticide products that have been approved by the state of Maryland.”