Clean or contaminated cannabis…
1996, the year that brought about the legalization of medical cannabis for the first time, in
California. Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, opened a new door in the medical field for the treatment of patients suffering from life-changing illnesses such as cancer. Cannabis became a natural alternative to prescription medications, most of which, are likely to cause side-effects that mirror those which patients are seeking to relieve, or worse. Nausea, chronic pain, and loss of appetite, for some, are completely resolved by the use of medical cannabis. Though it improves the quality of patients lives, the cost at which the relief comes has yet to be discerned.
Essential and ravaging, curiosity wonders if the stakes are too high. Cannabis, whether for
recreational or medicinal use, should have quality standards and be consistent in its quality. Since being legalized for recreational use in California, cannabis has continued to forgo scientific testing. Federal regulations stand firm in outlawing the plant, making it difficult to secure funding and a space in which research can be conducted.
Physicians at UC Davis, in private facilities and with separate funding, took a more detailed
look at what patients are ingesting and inhaling when they utilize cannabis for their symptoms. Sampling from multiple dispensaries in the northern California area George Thompson III, associate professor of clinical medicine at UC Davis, noted the possible consequences of contaminated cannabis “Patients with impaired immune systems are routinely advised to avoid exposure to plants and certain raw foods because of the risk of infection from soil-dwelling organisms.” Researchers involved with the study found 20 different samples contaminated by the presence of bacteria and microorganisms including aspergillus fungi, cryptococcus, and klebsiella pneumoniae.
The risks of these bacteria and fungi go up when there is less control in the environment in
which the plant is being grown. You can control the temperature of any given room, the amount of light that enters, and even the humidity.. but none of us can control whether or not bugs or birds leave their mark in your back yard. If you do happen to use pesticides, if they are not properly flushed from your soil before harvesting, you run the risk of contaminating your plants with chemicals that when inhaled can be extremely dangerous. In a separate study done by Steep Hill Labs of Berkeley in 2016, it was found that 70% of their cannabis samples purchased from dispensaries were contaminated with pesticide residues. According to Reggie Gaudino, the vice president of scientific operations at the Steep Hill firm, about one third of their samples would have failed Oregon State pesticide regulations.
Contaminated cannabis not only occurs through to coming into contact with the elements or mishandling. Intentional contamination from human hands is also a rampant issue in areas where cannabis is less regulated and/or still illegal on the state level as well as federal. Findings have shown cannabis sprayed with sugar or sand to make it appear higher quality and increase the weight of the product. Some will spray the plant with perfumes or even diesel fuel in order to attain the much sought after “skunky” smell. These types of contaminated cannabis are often referred to as “grit weed”, which is any kind of cannabis that has been laced with a foreign substance in order to make it appear as a higher quality. These contaminants often leave the plant with a sandy texture that when rubbed against
glass or disk will scratch, creating an easy way for patients as well as recreational users to test for anything that shouldn’t be there.
Testing for contamination is going to be difficult unless you are a professional with access to some expensive equipment. There are a few start ups however, providing simple at home tests to give you a better idea the quality of the products you’ve purchased or are going to purchase. If you’ve got a magnifying glass lying around you can use that to take a closer look at your buds and try to notice an abnormally large crystals not consistent with the rest of the plant. Feel the cannabis between your fingers and see if it feels grainy or chalky in texture. Or, as mentioned previously, you can take your bud, rub it against some glass, and listen for scratching noises. These tests can help patients to determine whether or not they have a good product.
Aside from asking the dispensaries you frequent for testing paperwork on their different strains, there are not many other ways easily available to test cannabis at home. Patients with compromised immune systems are encourage to try eating the cannabis in baked edible form. There are no scientific studies to back the notion, but there are arguments that any bacteria resulting from contaminants would be baked out due to the prolonged high temperature. Whichever way you chose to relive your symptoms or enjoy your free time, staying informed will help you find the highest quality product for your exact needs. It is important to note that not all cannabis is going to be contaminated,
but being knowledgeable about your drug of choice never hurts.
Originally posted 2017-10-20 16:20:08.