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Is California’s Cannabis Too “Dirty” to Be Considered Medicine?

Is California’s Cannabis Too “Dirty” to Be Considered Medicine?


Is California’s Cannabis Too “Dirty” to Be Considered Medicine?

There have been several reports this week about the safety of California’s cannabis. The overall picture? Much of the cannabis in California is full of pesticides, pathogens and heavy metals. Now, this is not necessarily news for most people, but many are thinking, “Well, now that it’s legalized in California, this ought to become less of a problem.” Sadly, this is not entirely true.  Sure, some will follow the new rules and regulations, but many will do as they’ve always done: sell cannabis in a black market to states where cannabis is illegal.

Until cannabis becomes federally legal, this state of affairs looks likely to continue. The profit motive is still there as long as (a) there are markets where cannabis is illegal yet in-demand and/or (b) it’s taxed so highly that a black market thrives, even in recreationally legal states. Moreover, the lack of joined-up thinking and consistent laws from state-to-state (and even in towns and jurisdictions within states) means that many will try and find a way around the laws or just not pay any attention to them entirely. Others will just simply stop growing cannabis, as they’re taken over by bigger producers or just can’t be bothered to deal with fickle laws and its enforcement.

Now here’s the thing about those who grow to supply the black market: on the most part (though by no means all), they’re looking to cut corners and produce as much cannabis as possible. This leads to “grow and burn” practices, i.e. grow as much as you can, as quickly as you can, as cheaply as you can. Ultimately, this ends with bad growing practices, highly inefficient land management, dead wildlife from all the pesticides, and general environmental destruction. On top of this, such practices also mean that consumers get bad-quality produce full of pollutants, pathogens and lots of other problems.

Medical marijuana' medical marijuana testing; cannabis; cannabis in jars
Samples of medical Marijuana is available for customers to smell before they purchase at Canna Care Inc., a medical marijuana dispensary in Sacramento. The dispensaries are thriving with over 40 medical marijuana dispensaries currently operating in the city of Sacramento. Sacramento, California August 20, 2009 A person going through health problems – who will more than likely have a compromised immune system – is not getting “medicine” if this is the sort of product that ends up in the supply chain. So how can cannabis be considered medicine, when it’s not properly regulated, measured or controlled in any way? Well, this is true to an extent, and it is one reason why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot call cannabis a “medicine”. However, this can be fixed and the FDA can know for sure what cannabis is and its medical potential with the right regulations and allowing scientific research to take place.


Yet, for all the lack of regulation and proper dosing, there are many people who have used cannabis successfully for their health problems, and there is a lot of significant data and research coming out on cannabis’s medical value. Thanks to the work of Raphael Mechoulam et al., we also know that humans (and many other animals as well) have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that seems to play a significant role in homeostasis. There definitely seems to be some medical value to cannabis – the problem looks to be that some people would rather scientists and doctors not study it. Why that might be, we’ll let you decide …

In the meantime, if you’re looking for a reliable, reputable source of medical marijuana, then it may be worth asking where and what farm your favorite dispensary gets their produce from, how often they get their produce tested, what they test for and so on. The dispensaries who take such matters into consideration and follow through on their quality control measures are the ones you want to keep in business.

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