Court Strikes Down Montgomery County’s Ban on Lawn Pesticides

In a win for the pest management industry and protecting public health and property, on August 3, 2017, the Maryland Circuit Court struck down Montgomery County’s ordinance that bans lawn and garden pesticide use on private property. Judge Terrence McGann set an ever impactful legal precedent by ruling that state law preempts the County Council’s law passed in 2015.

Nationally, there are still a few states that allow local governments to regulate pesticides because state law does not explicitly preempt them, and Maryland was believed to be one of those few states, however, this ruling changed that understanding, and could result in national implications for how pesticides are regulated.

Judge McGann ruled that since Maryland had existing comprehensive and extensive pesticide applicator, labeling, registration, and use laws and regulations that the General Assembly enacted has implied that the State of Maryland has exclusive authority to regulate pesticides by asserting:
“The General Assembly has manifested a purpose to preempt exclusively the entire field of pesticide use. The State of Maryland has already established comprehensive pesticide use regulations in Maryland Registration and Labeling Law, Maryland Applicator’s Law, and their corresponding COMAR regulations. These statutes regulate every facet of pesticide use in the State of Maryland. Maryland’s comprehensive program of pesticide regulation occupies the field of pesticide use and thus impliedly preempts the Ordinance. Maryland law dictates precisely where, when, how each and every pesticide it has authorized may be used, and all of these use instructions can be found on the specially authorized product label on each individual pesticide container.”

NPMA is pleased with this outcome because local government regulation of pesticides is a hindrance to protecting public health and property. Municipal governments do not have the expertise and resources to sufficiently regulate pesticides. These contradicting and overlapping regulations caused by local governments precipitate nothing more than unnecessary chaos and confusion for Pest Management Professionals and the customers they are trying to protect from dangerous and deadly pests. We hope that this decision will be used as a precedent in the few remaining states that permit localities to regulate pesticides. To learn more please click here.