We all know that marijuana is “one of the safest therapeutically-active substances known to man,” at least according to DEA Judge Francis Young, but what about the pesticides used to keep those cannabis crops free of spider mites, aphids and other insects? Is it possible that pot smokers are ingesting harmful chemicals by burning residual pesticides sprayed onto plants during the growth cycle?
According to chemist Jeffrey Raber, who operates a medical cannabis analytics laboratory called the Werc Shop, up to 70% of any pesticide found on a marijuana bud can end up inhaled by smokers. Earlier this month, Raber spoke as part of Humboldt State University's Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research's lecture series, where he described the results of a new study he just published in Journal of Toxicology with those disturbing results.
After noting that approximately 10% of the cannabis tested by his facility registers positive for pesticides, Raber speculated that number would be far higher in the general marijuana supply. Hopefully, these findings will be a wake-up call for increased regulation in the industry. The regulation will be especially important when full legalization of marijuana is enacted, and pave the way for stringent testing and hopefully, organic farming.
”I think all that says is we really need some serious regulations within California to help us clean up our supply, especially in the medical patient context,” Raber said. “These are people that are immunocompromised, they're undergoing chemotherapy, they're very sick with antibacterial loads. We can't be subjecting them to more of these types of potentially harmful contaminants when they're looking to this as a medicine source.”
In Washington State, cannabis sold at recreational pot stores can be legally treated with over 200 different pesticides. Raber said that while the use of pesticides on cannabis plants is technically illegal in California, the practice is widespread. As it stands now, little is known about the dangers of inhaling these chemicals -- a method of absorption that pushes pesticides directly into your bloodstream, bypassing the liver and other natural filters in the body that tend to break down pesticides when eaten.
Those people who have concerns about chemical pesticides and fertilizers should source organically grown, lab-tested marijuana whenever possible. Or better yet, learn to grow your own, so you can make sure your herb's 100% pesticide free!