Are Your Meds Making You Sick?
In a new Columbia University study, blood and urine toxicology reports paint a disturbing new trend in Cannabis consumption. While tox screens are nothing new to Marijuana users, what IS new is the abnormally high levels of Lead and Cadmium showing up in blood and urine screens from patients indicating they are regular Cannabis users.
Click to read the report here.
The report draws one fairly black-and-white conclusion. Where you buy your marijuana is important. State legal Cannabis dispensaries in the United States are required to test all cannabis and reject the lots that show toxic contaminants. So if you are buying your meds from a dispo, skip the next paragraph. If not, please read on.
Gone are the days of your local plug supplying you from their local basement grow. Black market cultivation is a big, global business now and many of these grow, especially international cultivators in Mexico and China use chems to stress the plant. Stress can create higher bud weight and higher THC levels which lead to more saleable cannabis and higher prices. Unfortunately, those chems remain in the plant. Cannabis and the entire Hemp family are in the accumulator class of vegetation. Accumulator plants are used to absorb all manner of toxicity; anything from radiation at the failed Chernobyl Nuclear Facility to harsh chemicals at EPA Super Fund sites like Love Canal. Did the cultivator of your Marijuana use test soil? Did they use a chem to artificially stress the plant? Are those chems still there? Unless you purchased your meds from a licensed dispo required to test cannabis before sale, you’ll never know.
For old hands in the biz, we saw the same findings for cigarettes in the mid-70s. Note, that I said cigarettes, not tobacco; RYO did not have these issues. Cig companies passed their addictive chemical malfeasance off as a necessary part of the manufacturing process for a more ‘convenient’ and ‘pleasurable’ way of enjoying tobacco. What a crock! Big Tobacco sprayed the tobacco with a catalog of chemicals that looked like a patent list from DuPont. Remember the advertisements? We look and laugh at them now for how ridiculous (“The Lucky Strike diet”? Are you kidding me?) they were. And yet, here we are again. Now, go take a hit off that healthy vape pen. Still laughing?
What the article fails to answer is specifically why these toxins are showing up now versus back then. What’s different about cannabis consumption these days? Cultivation is one of the differences, and we discussed that above. Another is the method of cannabis consumption.
Cannabis is sticky, it’s a given. Cannabis oil is even stickier. It requires specialized tools to use cannabis oil unless it is…processed. Spoiler alert, Here comes Big Cannabis to help us use their product in a ‘convenient’ and ‘pleasurable’ way. Processing. What is that anyway? Well, to get oil from cannabis, the trichomes on the bud need to be harvested. BITD, that was either kief from a sifter or concentrate from ice water and a micron bag. No chemicals.
Today, large-scale Cannabis cultivators, (yes, even dispos) use solvents to extract the oil. Extract, not concentrate – they are NOT interchangeable. Extract uses solvents that are supposedly ‘purged’ even though they still show on the certs. Concentrates do not use solvents.
Okay, we have the extracted oil now…next, stick it in the pen, right? Wrong. The oil is still far too thick and sticky. The oil has to be cut with thinners and prepped for a vape pen with aerosolizers. Thinners help deliver the oil from the tank to the atomizer inside the vape. Aerosolizers create a consistent vapor droplet size that is lighter than ambient air for ease of inhalation. No, really, it sounds totally healthy…time to get on the Lucky Strike diet again!
The existence of an ongoing lawsuit between a state legal dispensary and a Chinese vape manufacturer is also very telling. This Oklahoma cultivator was accused of providing tainted cannabis that was causing users to exhibit the tell tale signs of heavy metal poisoning. After rigorous secondary testing, the cannabis was found to be clean and free of toxicity issues. Then the cartridges and vape hardware (yeah, you guessed it, made in China) were tested. Ding! We have a ‘winner’. The solder used in the manufacturing process was rich in Lead, Cadmium, and Arsenic. Adhesives used in the production of the cartridges also contained Lead, Arsenic, and Phthalates. People were being poisoned for the convenience of their healthy vape. Here we go again, trading our health for convenience. So now those patients are left to file a lawsuit against a Chinese company. Good luck with that.
Unlike Tobacco adulterated with toxins to increase consumption, Cannabis toxicity is a new phenomenon. The article’s writer didn’t know what I knew and was unable to connect the dots. In my opinion, the drivers of this ‘newness’ are
- Unlicensed cultivators grow on unsuitable/polluted soil (typically outside of the USA) where accumulator plants like Hemp and Cannabis suck toxins from the soil.
- The same unlicensed cultivators use chemicals to artificially increase bud weight and THC content to improve yield/profitability.
- Extraction companies still use solvents, non-food grade thinners, and aerosolizers not acceptable for ingestion.
- Vape Pens and components are made with toxic (cheap) materials in China, and yes, they’re ALL made in China.
I’m an experienced head. I’m also solvent-sensitive, which was the reason I went down the rabbit hole. I think cannabis consumers are being lied to, just like cigarette consumers were. See something, say something. I tested the flower and vaporized clean concentrate. I consume my cannabis through glass because glass is 100% inert. I think a whole bunch of companies are going to be outed for knowing they were producing poison for profit, just like Phillip Morris.
1 The only legal description is Made in USA. Period. Designed in California, Shipped from Texas and An American Owned Company are all phrases meant to mislead and misdirect you to think Made in USA without actually saying “Made In USA”. If they refuse to use “Made in USA”, then it’s not and it’s probably made in China.