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Safety in Numbers Getting smart on clean By Jeff Raber

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green

here are many different aspects of medical cannabis which touch both users and non-users in a variety of ways. From which product forms are available and utilized in which areas to which variety is going to be most helpful for a particular ailment. An issue that impacts both medical cannabis consumers and non-consumers is the legal structure and laws around the regulation of the production and distribution of these medications. Recently the Federal Department of Justice released a memo describing how it shall be a low priority to pursue marijuana cultivators and providers who are operating pursuant to state laws and are operating within a set of comprehensive regulations that both prevents problems and meets federal standards for the protection of public health. Unfortunately, many states have not formally established a well-defined, clear and easily interpretable set of laws and regulations that will provide a bright line of understanding to both law enforcement and the 16 CULTURE • OCTOBER 2013

cannabis community. As we have written previously about the potential for considerable exposure of pesticides via inhalation, where almost 70 percent of the pesticide present on the plant material could be exposed to a user’s lungs, the cannabis community has become quite concerned about pesticides being present in our medicine. In lab testing, we have observed that more than 10 percent of the samples tested have failed our pesticide screen. We’ve sampled in some smaller areas that have resulted in almost 30 percent of the samples being contaminated with a pesticide in our screen. To better understand what a patient might access, 15 different flower samples were collected anonymously from a variety of sources. These samples ranged in THC content from 1023 percent, with many of them reaching 19 percent or greater. Of these particular samples six percent failed our pesticide screen. This corroborates an existing hypothesis that 10 percent

You are what you eat of the overall samples being contaminated with pesticides as concentrates and waxes are observed at a higher rate of failure than flowers. With some areas’ current position of “no pesticides being currently allowed for use on cannabis,” we have adopted a sensitive and broad-based screening methodology. We look for 30 different pesticides and chemical residues at levels that have been calculated based on current EPA allowable daily intake limits for use on other ingestible products. The two most prevalent chemicals we find are the plant growth regulator paclobutrazol and the pyrethoid insecticide bifenthrin. It is important to note that a pesticide pass or failure is only indicative of the pesticides looked for by the laboratory using that particular methodology. Considering one in 10 products a patient acquires from a dispensary will contain a pesticide or plant growth regulator, it is imperative that patients start seeking safety tested medications. Producers and providers need to remember they have a responsibility to everyone who may potentially consume their medicine. It is only right to ensure all of our medicine is clean and free of contaminants, and as a community we can demand that it is done properly. c

The July deaths of 23 Indian children from what authorities are calling pesticide-tainted school lunches have raised questions about insectkilling chemicals used overseas and at home. The children died after eating a free meal of rice, potatoes and soy. It was thought to contain an organophosphate insecticide, according to an official involved with the ongoing investigation. Investigators found a container of pesticide in the school’s cooking area, according to The Associated Press, and said the rice might have been tainted and improperly washed. A cook said oil used to prepare the meal looked unusual, but that she was told by the principal to use it anyway. Organophosphates are used widely around the world and are the most common pesticide in the U.S., with an estimated 73 million pounds of the chemical sprayed on American crops in 2001, according to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. V I S I T U S AT i R e a d C u l t u r e . c o m

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