A new story from The Curious About Cannabis Podcast
So far everything we've explored about about the health risks of cannabis civic ignored a really critical element in that's contaminants so far. We've been assuming that if you're using cannabis that cannabis abyss must be clean. But unfortunately that's not always the case the cannabis contaminants that were looking at Anthony. Smith is a biochemist. Oh chemist that has spent the last five years analyzing cannabis products for potency purity in labs all across the United States and Canada. Ten minutes we're looking for are pesticides hides solvents heavy metals micro-toxins and then also microbiological contaminants eat holy and or s attack which is a Shiga Toxin E. Coli Salmonella Djilas a total mold or total. Aerobic plate counts Katrina nonspecific bacteria the most common contaminants that we find are definitely pesticides. I I would say four or five years ago. It was like a rampant rampant thing Where you know at times in Oregon's some times of of the year we were seeing pesticide-product failure rates at twenty percent or more I think the industry got a little bit of a black guy but honestly flee those rates today in Oregon Also in California for pesticide fails or in the two to four percent. Wow range it's fairly low and I mean back again back in the day I mean. A lot of those pesticide fails were products. That were consciously sprayed on the material. Either they didn't know that those materials were persist into the product or didn't care or didn't consult the list of things I don't know but today mostly when we talk to clients that have pesticide fails it it. Now it it's It's either a mistake or something that it was overlooked or sometimes unlisted unlisted product or just kind of a lack of control You Know An- An- not properly trained wind. Farm technician found something maybe in the farmhouse garage instead of in the sort of validated growing area and used it by accident or yeah whatever Sometimes agricultural over spray from Either neighboring cannabis farms or Gosh in Florida. A lot of products is coming up with Malathion. But there's parts of Florida where helicopters appears fly over neighborhoods spraying malathion swampy areas. So you're not paying attention to that and your greenhouses. He's just sucking it in and blowing it before we continue. Let's talk a little bit more about pesticides now. Many pesticides are designed to disrupt corrupt the nervous systems or hormone signaling in insects. The effect this has is basically excites the insect so much that it becomes paralyzed and eventually dies now. The problem is that the same effect can happen in humans. If someone is exposed to enough of a certain pesticide for long enough periods of time and you might be thinking what's the big deal about pesticides and cannabis specifically are we already exposed. Pesticides are food. Well technically that's true unfortunately but the problem relates to the way in which cannabis is consumed. You see when you eat something if if it has pesticides in it your liver goes to work to try to metabolize those products and get them excreted out of the body. It helps keep you safe and helps limit the amount of pesticides that actually reach your bloodstream. And get distributed throughout your entire body. Ever when you smoke something. You're bypassing that metabolic process. You're not allowing things to go through the normal route and get Go through what's called First Pass metabolism and allow the liver to break down some of these do things before it reaches your blood in your lungs. You've got these little sex called Alveoli that are basically the sites of gas and blood exchange so when you breathe in oxygen this is where the oxygen passes through the lungs and into the blood. Well when you he smoked cannabis in you inhale that cannabis smoke if it has pesticides in it. Those pesticides will actually pass through that barrier and reach your blood and then get distributed throughout your body without your liver ever having a chance to help you out. So that's really the main difference why smoking things with pesticides in them is such a bigger. Your problem than eating things have pesticides in them. Additionally some pesticides like Michael Butte nil which is a common fund aside often often used by cannabis cultivators can actually degrade into toxic compounds. Like hydrogen cyanide when they're heated. It's also really important point out that many pesticides as well as micro-toxins can become concentrated in cannabis extracts the whole process of making a cannabis concentrate concentrate can elevate contaminants like pesticides as much as five to ten times. The concentration that they were found in the cannabis flower. That was used to make them. This means if you're consuming cannabis concentrate your potentially being exposed to much greater doses of contaminants than if you're consuming the cannabis flower that was used to produce. That concentrate. Concentrate also WANNA point out that it's not enough to simply test or cannabis flower contaminants prior to making a concentrate. It's totally possible for there to be very trace amounts of pesticides or other contaminants present on that cannabis flower. That are not gonNA show up on any testing but once once you make that cannabis concentrate in those contaminants get concentrated. All of a sudden. You'll start to see them on tests at dangerous levels now. Let's go back to our conversation with Dr Smith Microbial contaminants At least on the Salmonella E-coli N.. Honestly we don't really see any significant it failure rates With modern shelf cannabis. That stuff is all pretty clean. Those are contaminants generally come from manure or UH At hand washing and so In California occasionally. We do see some problems with that in manufactured or infused products Because they're you know I didn't wash their hands making the cakes or whatever again that's though. Yeah and not not really a cannabis thing We do detect ASPERGILLUS We use PCR polymerase chain reaction Shen as a as a screening tool So this is a way to look for the genetic signature of a bunch of different microbes rapidly in a reaction and then if when we do get positive hits Those are always confirmed by direct culture. Plates So aspergillus is still still kind of a thing. this is why a lot of states require moisture moisture content measurement and or water activity measurements. What is this is a means of benchmarking? How dry your materials are in that? They're you're cured to a certain level so you don't have to worry about moulder a Growing out yeah absolutely Also you know while we're talking about mold and Fudgy ASPERGILLUS and other dark-colored molds produce their own sort of form of pesticides called mycotoxin. There are a number of micro-toxins is that are required to be tested for again. Not yet in Oregon I would. I would imagine that to the chemists. They look much like pesticides with respect to their chemistry and analyze them. SPEC in California Rupe has a specific requirement for mycotoxin testing. And so I would say the failure rate for those of you know about similar to the mold failure. Those are really the signature of mold down but they are persistent where you probably would only find mold in cannabis flower. Our time just like pesticides do occasionally be taxed micro-toxins in more finished products in raisins infused is products micro-toxins once produced or super super stable. They're very heat tolerant. Even under high pressure they seem to be able to survive those processes and unlike most pesticides like we know mycotoxin Mycotoxin hypoxia and and persistently or cumulatively they cause cumulative liver damage like your lifetime dose if you will matters a lot of pesticides e certainly. Don't want a lot of them in your bloodstream. They actually do from food but a lot of those are very well. Broken down by the liver and they're generally not that toxic pick below a certain level. That sounds funny to say but still yeah X.. The poison right. Yeah exactly mycotoxin is not so much. YEAH THEY THEY A. They do. Cause liver damage cumulatively. And so it's definitely not something that you want in your food. Yeah and they're They're pretty carcinogenic to from what I understand and It's something that When Oregon was developing the rules of surprised That might be toxins. Assume there was discussion about it early on and then it kind of fell out. But it's something that we you know some work trying to look at that and you know we were able to confirm like it's around for sure. Yeah it's it's fly around you know not super common but you know just in the context of public health and safety especially with how popular extracts are getting getting More and more in vape pens and dabbing and all this thing You know I have some pretty serious concerns about exposure to micro-toxins sins as.