This text describes the most common impurities and diluents in marijuana, explains how to recognize them, and what risks they pose.
Breeders love to remove the very THC-rich resin layer by sieving. This dusty layer of pollen is then hidden and can be sold again on the black market as a visually high quality and heavy herb. This low-grade weed is unlikely to be recognized by the buyer.
Both cannabis and hashish are blended with various substances to improve quality and stretch. They range from grated hemp leaves, spices, fats and oils to shoe polish, sand, wax, sugar and hairspray, and products like brix.
Brix is produced in the USA and Australia and is used exclusively to stretch cannabis flowers. It is a liquid in which hemp flowers are dipped after harvest and then dried. It is composed primarily of sugar, but also amino acids, hormones (including triacontanol, the growth hormone of green leaves), and liquid plastic that air-solidifies. Brix and other synthetic substances such as synthetic wax found in shoe polish, for example, are particularly harmful additives. Smoking produces carcinogens that should be avoided if inhaled. Some of these substances are especially harmful.
Likewise, burning organic matter (such as spices or herbs) produces carcinogenic substances. For example, smoking joints due to combustion products, especially tobacco smoked with it, is one of the most harmful forms of cannabis consumption.
There is a fundamental risk of silicosis when inhaling sand containing silica. It is a lung disease in which an inflammatory change in connective tissue occurs with scarring of the lungs. Bronchitis develops. This occupational disease occurs mainly in miners who inhale large quantities of sand containing quartz. However, even a heavy cannabis smoker cannot even come close to these amounts. Sand, finely crushed glass and similar substances irritate the lungs, but are only marginally harmful to health. Synthetic substances with which they are applied to the flower pose a great danger to inorganic substances, because the sand does not stick on its own.
Therefore, various fillers pose significant health risks and should be avoided anyway! The best protection is reliable sources or, if low quality is suspected, immediate disposal!
Exposure to pesticides.
Pesticide contamination of domestic grass has been discussed for a long time, but until now it has been dismissed as a myth. The Dutch government estimated in 2001 that at least 50% of cannabis producers in the Netherlands use pesticides. For some time, CannaResearch has been examining samples from cafes for pesticide residues, thus making a valuable contribution to health. The most common active ingredients are fluralaxil, propamocarb and abamectin.
Furalaxil, which is contained in the plant protection product Fongarid. It is a fungicide used to combat root and stem rot that enters the plant system through the leaves and roots. Therefore, such fungicides are also called “systemic fungicides”. It takes almost 50 days to halve the concentration of this pesticide in the tips of flowers, but it is also used shortly before harvest. It is noteworthy that in the Netherlands this active ingredient can only be used in ornamental plants and in horticulture. Since hemp is grown illegally, the Pest Control Act is of course not valid.
Propamocarb is found, among others, in Previcur N (Bayer). Like furalaxil, it is used against fungi that cause stem and root rot. It is also used to combat downy mildew (Plasmopara spp.). Only after 25 days, the concentration of the agent in the tips of the flowers is halved.
Abamectin is the active ingredient in Vertimec. This well-known insecticide is equally toxic. It is mainly used against spider mites, but is also effective against leaf miners and thrips.
All three pesticides can cause serious harm to human health!
Exposure to mold and bacteria.
In a study by Leiden University in the Netherlands, a microbiological study was conducted on ten samples from different cafes. All samples were contaminated with bacteria and / or mold to such an extent that the permissible limit values for inhaled drugs (as defined by the European Pharmacopoeial Commission) were exceeded.
Some of the microbes found can produce toxins that are not completely destroyed by temperature, such as smoking cannabis, allowing them to enter the lungs. Such microbes and toxins can be especially dangerous for people with already weakened immune systems, such as those with AIDS or cancer. Aspergillus mold, which has been found among other things in samples, in the worst case leads to fatal pneumonia in immunologically compromised people.
The study also looked at two types of cannabis available in Dutch pharmacies. They showed only minimal traces of mold and bacteria, which were well below the relevant limit values. Accordingly, these varieties are recommended for medicinal use.
Summary and conclusion.
The extent and consequences of contamination of cannabis products are largely unexplored. However, there is a lot of evidence that hashish and herb stretching pose a serious health threat to consumers.
DHV criticizes the cannabis ban, which only leads to the black market and uncontrollable excesses. In a legal marketplace, control through food laws, etc., would be taken for granted.
DHV addresses various government agencies (for example, DHV’s open letter to the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) about herb):
- Analyze cannabis for impurities and determine the health risk!
- Make factual information available to consumers and help businesses accordingly!
- Create an opportunity for consumers to anonymously analyze cannabis for foreign substances and impurities (drug testing)!
- Create an opportunity for self-improvement for consumers!