The use of Marijuana for medical and recreational purposes has been on the rise lately, and it is increasingly made legal, but do consumers really know what they are smoking? Are they safe in terms of quality? Few studies recently have suggested that modern marijuana mostly lacks the beneficial components, and is often contaminated (laced) with fungi, pesticides and heavy metals.
Contamination and Unnaturally High Potency
Marijuana is a commodity that is usually sold by weight, so some street dealers deliberately “lace” the product to increase its weight. In other cases too, there’s this possibility of chemical contaminants like Concentrates and Edibles. In some areas, during the cultivation of marijuana, its commercialization and intake methods, there is also a potential of heavy metal exposure. Manufacturers can use potentially harmful compounds like Butane to strip the plant of most everything but THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive compound in marijuana that produces high. In some commercial and industrial area soils and waters where marijuana is grown, pesticides and pollutant metals like lead (Pb), chromium (Cr), arsenic (As), and cadmium (Cd) can be present and can end up in the product. The cannabidaceae, a group of plants that includes Cannabis (hemp), has a reputation for absorbing metals quickly during cultivation.
Colorado voters made marijuana legal in November 2012 and its medical and recreational use has been on rise ever since. But recent studies have shown that Colorado’s recreational pot lining store shelves is two to three times more potent than the weed sold in the black market 30 years ago. And like mentioned above, the boost in power comes at a cost — modern marijuana mostly lacks the beneficial components, and is often contaminated with fungi, pesticides, butane and heavy metals.
Andy LaFrate is the founder of Charas Scientific, one of the 8 Colorado labs certified to test Cannabis, who along with his group, tested more than 600 strains of marijuana from dozens of producers. They found butane, heavy metals, bacteria and commonly found fungus in some samples of the marijuana products they tested. They also found that modern weed contains THC levels of 18 to 30 percent, which is double to triple the levels in buds from the 1980s. LaFrate explains that growers have cross-bred plants over the years to create such powerful strains. More cause of concern; such breeding for more powerful marijuana has led to the little or no presence of Cannabidiol (CBD), the compound thought to treat a range of illnesses, like seizures, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s. LaFrate also pointed something against what consumers assume, the growers of marijuana do not necessarily use natural cultivation methods and grow organically. Contrary to the common belief that different strains produce different effects on the user, the team also found there was little chemical difference among marijuana samples. Shown in the video is a brief report on the study.
Health Risks & Measures
Although testing has not shown serious health risks, the possible health effects of such contamination of medical and recreational marijuana are unknown. The latest findings suggest the importance of testing of marijuana for contaminants. In Colorado, there is no testing of marijuana for contaminants yet, although the testing for potency and consistency has been made mandatory in 2014. For the safety of the consumers, the pot stores should also test for molds, germs, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and other harmful chemicals. Consumers can benefit if the sellers can include this information on labels, along with potency and the number of servings of marijuana.