Though the jury is still out, many claim marijuana may be good for you. Pesticides, however, most decidedly are not. A recent study conducted by Jeffrey Raber finds up to 70 percent of pesticides spayed on marijuana plants end up in pot smoke.
Given the burgeoning market for medicinal marijuana in places such as Colorado, Washington and California, this statistic proves problematic. Raber, a PhD in chemistry from the University of Southern California, equates inhaling pesticides in marijuana smoke to “injecting [pesticides] directly into your blood stream.”
The issue at hand is how the body processes marijuana smoke versus how it handles pesticide-sprayed produce, for example. The sprayed produce is usually cleaned before consumption. Marijuana buds, on the other hand, cannot be cleaned. Once eaten, produce passes through the stomach and liver, being scrubbed of pathogens by both organs. Marijuana smoke, on the other hand, goes directly into the bloodstream without passing through any sort of filter.
Cancer patients represent a growing population of marijuana users, as the drug shows great promise in relieving pain. Many cancer patients, however, are also on immunosuppressants. Raber’s study highlights the potential danger in mixing pesticide-laden pot and weakened immune systems.
Raber’s lab tests medicinal marijuana stock and says roughly 10 percent of the specimens which pass through test positive for pesticides. This sample size of legal, voluntary surrendered marijuana represents a miniscule proportion of marijuana used in the United States. In doing a wider study of marijuana plants—legal and otherwise—Raber’s lab found upwards of 35 percent tested positive for pesticides.
With a handful of states legalizing pot, many growers are applying pesticides to maximize the yield of their pot plants and drive profit. Knowing that pot smoke gives pesticides a direct line into our bodies, Raber suggests more stringent governmental regulation.