Marijuana, whether in raw or concentrated form, is often viewed as a natural and safe medicine among patients. However, just like other plants, cannabis can draw in contaminants from the environment – including bacteria, fungus, pesticides and heavy metals. Today’s marijuana is much more potent than it was 30 years ago — but studies have shown that the processes used to concentrate THC can actually increase the levels of heavy metals, pesticides, or other dangerous contaminants.
There is a common misconception that cannabis growers use organic cultivation methods for their crops. This, unfortunately, is not the case at all. Terrain used for large-scale cannabis cultivation sometimes borders old mining and industrial sites where the soil is laden with pollutant metalloids. Even indoor marijuana that is sprayed with non-certified fertilizers or lead-containing pesticides is at risk for contamination. Without uniform regulations for heavy metal testing, medical cannabis patients have no way of knowing whether their products are laced with cadmium, lead, arsenic or mercury – all of which pose serious health risks.
Medical marijuana is now a burgeoning retail industry, underscoring the need for reliable testing for safety, quality, and purity. At Modern Canna Science, we analyze cannabis samples for silver, mercury, zinc, lead, cadmium, thallium, copper, cobalt, arsenic, antimony, and 29 other metals using advanced methods, procedures, and Inductively Coupled Plasma technology to help identify and quantify heavy metal toxicity.
Heavy metal toxicity
Growers, dispensaries, and cannabis patients need to know if their products contain safe levels of heavy metals. In Nevada, for example, the state division of public and behavioral health lists the following standard for heavy metals limits in medical marijuana.
- Arsenic max <0.14 uG/KG
- Cadmium max <0.09 uG/KG
- Mercury max <0.29 uG/KG
- Lead max <0.29 uG/KG
The cannabis plant is an excellent bioremediator, soaking up a large majority of whatever the roots come in contact with. Even at extremely low levels, heavy metals such as lead and cadmium can be extremely hazardous to one’s health. Here’s a closer look at some of the threats posed by cannabis heavy metals.
- Lead (Pb) — Lead is a common environmental contaminant in the soil and air. Prolonged exposure is tied to a number of health complaints, including join and muscle pain, headaches, fertility and reproductive problems and gastrointestinal disorders.
- Cadmium (Cd) – This heavy metal, a zinc byproduct, is commonly used in manufacturing processes. According to health regulators, cadmium is carcinogenic and can cause kidney failure and bone density loss. Cadmium has adverse effects on the body’s neurological, reproductive, renal and respiratory, and cardiovascular systems.
- Mercury (Hg) – Studies indicate that mercury inhalation through smoking is more dangerous than exposure with ingestion, as the lungs are more efficient absorbers. Mercury poisoning is associated with neurological damage, tremors, seizures, memory impairment, and motor control problems.
- Arsenic (As) – Arsenic, even at low levels, is incredibly toxic to the human body. Long-term exposure to arsenic in drinking water is linked to cancers of the skin as well as hyperkeratosis and pigmentation problems. In toxic amounts, arsenic causes a sudden drop in blood pressure, vomiting, and eventually death.
It’s important to note that popular marijuana concentrates like shatter and wax are likely to contain not only larger concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol, but also heavy metals, while dried flowers will have lower levels of these contaminants.
Cannabis heavy metal testing in Florida
With medical marijuana now legal in Florida for a wide range of debilitating conditions, Modern Canna Science is poised to serve a growing need for safe and pure cannabis products. Our cannabis testing laboratory can detect heavy metals at concentrations as low as one part per billion, giving patients and their caregivers an accurate profile of their medicine. Contact us today to learn more about our cannabis heavy metal testing service in Florida.
More information about marijuana heavy metal testing
- NEVADA STATE DIVISION OF PUBLIC AND BEHAVIORAL, Medical Marijuana Establishment Heavy Metals Testing Standard http://dpbh.nv.gov/uploadedFiles/dpbh.nv.gov/content/Reg/MedMarijuana/dta/Policies/PolicyTech%20Heavy%20Metals%20Testing%20Standards.pdf
- UnitedPatientsgroup.com, Heavy Metals and Cannabis: What You Don’t See Can Hurt You https://unitedpatientsgroup.com/blog/2015/04/06/heavy-metals-and-cannabis-what-you-dont-see-can-hurt-you
- US National Library of Medicine, Hazards of heavy metal contamination, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14757716