(Before reading this blog, keep in mind it is written from the perspective of Colorado. Check with your local dispensary for more information on testing requirements)

For those of us fortunate enough to be in a state that supports the legalization of cannabis, it seems that the times of getting a bag of questionable who-knows-what are behind us. With the opening of professional grows and storefronts, requirements of independent third-party testing, and clear descriptions of grow ingredients and allergens on packaging, I think it’s fair to say that cannabis consumption moving out from the shadows has allowed it also to become much safer for the citizens that choose to consume.

Not Completely Out of the Weeds 

Unfortunately, it may not be enough to completely eliminate risk. I haven’t been around long enough to know what it was like during the Paraquat scare in the late 70’s, but I do remember being a Budtender just a few years ago and having to assist in dealing with the aftermath of a recall. A number of major edible companies had us pull their products off our shelves after it was discovered that a grower supplied them with tainted trim for processing. It happened again in 2017’s first ever recall for dry herb over powdery mildew concerns in Denver. Ick.

In addition to pesticides and molds, there are other ingredients called Plant Growth Regulators, or PGRs, that can be pretty alarming. Growers might use PGRs to increase their plant yield or to make their plant’s bud structure grow denser and more uniform, as some consumers may believe that denser or more visually appealing nugs might indicate that it’s higher quality.

Some PGR’s that have been studied for their toxicity and effects on mammals have shown potential for a diverse number of health concerns, including impaired reproduction, tumor development, adverse effects to liver function, adverse developmental effects, irregular respiration, and more, and have been banned for use in US agricultural foods for decades.

Know What is in Your Pot

The point of this writing isn’t to inspire fear, but rather to encourage each of you to look into these concerns and make a judgment call for yourself. Despite the recalls, there haven’t been any reports of people getting ill from contaminated cannabis consumption. There are also a number of testing procedures for contaminants, molds, and pesticides, and detection of non-approved pesticides carries some heavy consequences (and most of the “potentially hazardous” PGRs are categorized as pesticides) as an additional security measure before the flower can be sold to the public.

Growers I’ve met also seem pretty against using toxic or harmful chemicals, and labeling requirements allow you to educate yourself on what type of herb your burning. Personally, I am very selective: I prefer my flower grown in soil without the use of any non-organic pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides; and despite that, I usually find options wherever I shop. Even if you’re not picky and have no interest in reading all the fine print, you can probably sleep fine knowing the joint you buy is likely just as safe as the produce from your grocery store.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.