Nothing Medicinal About Marijuana (Unless it is 100% Organic)

Mark (CC BY 2.0)

Mark (CC BY 2.0)

This post originally appeared on Cannibad.

Marijuana is getting more and more of a good rap these days. With its legalization in states like Colorado and Washington, economies are booming as demand for the plant increases. Glowing reports abound in regards to marijuana’s medicinal properties, ranging from immediate pain relief for terminally ill people to the curing of cancer. Yet many cannabis consumers are quite ill informed in regards to how the plants are most commonly grown. Maximum yield/minimum overhead and the almighty bottom line is all that matters for the majority of growers. Very few of them grow 100% organically. I should know, having spent the last three years with marijuana growers in the Emerald Triangle in Northern California (Covelo). I entered this world with high hopes of contributing something of benefit to humanity but left it completely disillusioned because of the pervasive disregard for cannabis users’s health I witnessed first hand. It is nothing short of ironic that many growers won’t smoke the very product they sell, knowing full well what is in it.

Here’s a partial list of the toxic substances that Marijuana plants are commonly exposed to:

Avid: a miticide used to combat Spider Mites, the bane of every pot grower. Avid is highly toxic to bees and contains Avermectin. It qualifies as a PAN Bad Actor: “chemicals that are one or more of the following: highly acutely toxic, cholinesterase inhibitor, known/probable carcinogen, known groundwater pollutant or known reproductive or developmental toxicant.”

Forbid: also a miticide. Contains Spiromesifen. While the PAN data base is inconclusive in regards to this product’s toxicity, it also mentions that:

By U.S. law, only active ingredients (AIs) are reported. In addition to active ingredients, pesticide products may contain one or more “inert” ingredients. Many “inert” ingredients in current use have known adverse human and environmental effects. 

No telling how our health is compromised when these mysterious, inert ingredients are smoked.

Eagle 20: a fungicide designed to combat powdered mildew. Eagle 20 contains Myclobutanil, a known endocrine disruptor and is also a ‘developmental and reproductive toxin’ according to the PAN pesticide database.

Sulphur: Pellets are burned in greenhouses to combat powdered mildew. Often for 4-5 hours a day for up to 5 days. While the PAN database does not list any acute toxicity, still the question remains what exactly does sulphur do to our bodies when inhaled into the lungs?

Pyrethrum: used to kill caterpillars. A known carcinogen.

Malathion: also classified as an endocrine disruptor in the PAN database.One of the most commonly used pesticides in the pot growing business-both indoor and outdoor growing.

Strychnine: Many so called ‘Guerilla’ growers will feed their cannabis plants rat poison containing Strychnine as it supposedly makes them give a ‘better buzz’ when smoked. Also it is widely used in pellet form to kill rodents surrounding marijuana grows. Animals eating the poisoned rodents get poisoned themselves all the way to the top of the food chain.

Motorized backpack sprayers are often used which forcibly spray the plants with the above mentioned pesticides and fungicides, causing the chemicals to go deep into the gaps in the buds. The toxins are supposed to ‘wear off’ before harvest time in mid to late October but that is rarely the case-unless the plants are exposed to days of rain. Those spraying the plants wear full protective suits, goggles and respirators to prevent contact with the harmful chemicals.

Cannabis plants are also adulterated with sugar and molasses which makes the buds more ‘resinous’ and heavy -a very common practice with both indoor and outdoor growers. There is no research that I know of into what smoking these substances does to the human body. Bud Hardeners used to put weight on the plants such as General Hydroponics Bush Load contain Paclobutrazol — a cancer causing chemical. Some contain Daminozide — equally carcinogenic and deadly.

Ideally, cannabis plants should be flushed with ample amounts of clean water for a minimum of 4 to 5 days prior to harvesting but none of this is at all sufficiently regulated and rarely ever carried through with as it means increased overhead for pot farmers, especially ones that don’t have their own source of water and rely on having it delivered. Also, many growers don’t use clean water but only what is available via municipal venues. Heavy metals such as mercury, lead, aluminum, copper and fluoride are found in most unfiltered tap water and go directly into the plants during watering and are not flushed out.

Indoor growers worried about overhead often skip the flushing process altogether, as told to me by a grower in Covelo. Keeping those high watt lights on for a few more days costs money. They then send their toxic marijuana straight to the dispensaries and elsewhere.

An additional caveat must be aired in regards to so called ‘wax’ a highly potent, concentrated form of marijuana which is increasing in popularity among cannabis consumers. Butane is used to distill what is called ‘trim shake’ into a wax like substance. The butane does not thoroughly dissipate and is ingested by whoever then smokes the wax. Alternatives to wax processing using butane are extremely expensive.

There are alternatives to the toxic substances sprayed on marijuana plants, such as Neem and Garlic oil and Liquid Lady Bug, but these are generally frowned upon by growers who have cast their consciences to the wind and quest for ultimate profit in a very competitive market. The mind set, very well entrenched in the cannabis growing industry is no different that found in other commercial agricultural endeavors where only the dollar matters — all at the heavy price of the environment and the uninformed cannabis consumer’s health. The presence of radioactivity in soil has been detected in California and should be even more cause for alarm. Much indoor marijuana is grown in soil that contains radioactivity. Please check this article out.

If the pot you are smoking burns your throat and lungs in any way — it most likely is laced with the above mentioned toxic substances. If you are buying from a cannabis dispensary — please do some thorough research into how well the products are tested for the presence of toxic chemicals prior to being made available for sale.

As more and more states legalize marijuana and the hype as to its medicinal value escalates, the importance of educating the public to the hazards of smoking/ingesting tainted product becomes more and more relevant. When buying, please look for 100% organically grown marijuana. It may cost more and be more difficult to obtain, but the message must be sent to growers that their environmentally destructive practices will not be tolerated.

Thor is an activist and writer. He is available for interviews. Please contact him at: reeferbadness [at]