If you are into clean and healthy living, you’re likely very aware of where your food is sourced, how it’s grown, and take significant measures to ensure that your food is free of contaminants or harmful pesticides.
We are conscious consumers, with awareness on the ways that some farmers cut corners or what unnecessary additives are added to food products. Dedicated to ethical food sourcing, we’re willing to put our voices behind a healthy food movement.
Here is some food for thought though: Have you applied the same ethical questions to cannabis as you do with your food? Can you say that the cannabis you consume is as clean as your diet?
With the rise of the professional cannabis movement, there have been significant standards placed on growing, with state regulations on fertilizers, chemical use, and compliance standards that require cannabis to be contaminant-free.
Unfortunately, some plants you may come in contact with, may be grown in a way that potentially pose a risk to your health. This is an overview of some aspects of growing, and the factors within the science that could be putting you at risk if you’re not a conscious consumer of cannabis.
The Dangers of Plant Growth Regulators
Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs) are often used by horticulturalists of all kinds to promote a better harvest, especially in indoor plant or crop grow operations. For cannabis, indoor growing often can result in stocky, unfruitful grows, which cause some people to turn to PGRs, which are made of a plethora of chemicals that suppress a growth hormone designed to lengthen cells in a stem, while stimulating other parts of the grow process that results in shorter grow time, speeding up the harvest. The cannabis is usually greater in quantity than it is in quality.
Many fertilizers in the farming and agricultural communities are within the state-regulated fertilizer markets. Levels of chemicals involved are balanced and are to adhere to strict regulations as to how they are used in farming. However, a variety of products online don’t have such regulation and may be potentially harmful. Two chemicals found in these products are causing quite the concern: paclobutrazol and daminozide.
Strong critics of PGRs claim that human exposure to paclobutrazol and daminozide can cause cancer, infertility and liver damage. There was an upheaval earlier this decade of growers warning us about the use of PGRs in indoor cannabis growing operations.
When the research is looked at a bit closer, researchers have identified potential health concerns for both paclobutrazol and daminozide through preliminary experiments, but have not yet been able to determine the long-term effects. When you look at the history of both chemicals, there have been significant efforts to discontinue the use of these chemicals within food farming. Both chemicals, at times, have produced public panic over their potential health risks when consumed, but continue to be used in food farming, but are to be used in a way that it does not come in contact with the crop.
Cannabis growing, when using PGRs, doesn’t necessarily take the same care being used in a seed, soil, and plant fertilizer. Publications like High Times, who are leaders in cultivation information, don’t approve of the use of PGRs in growing cannabis. Their comments on the topic acknowledge some very polarized views on the use of PGRs in overall farming practices and that more information needs to be available on the topic.
The Issue of GMOs in Cannabis Growing
Any advocate of clean food and agriculture will be familiar with Monsanto. According to agricultural advocates, they have a history of being accused of adding poisonous chemicals to crops for decades and have since been heavy-hitters in the production of GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
The cannabis industry was ablaze with the threat of Monsanto’s unethical production practices making its way into growing, especially with their association to the product Scott’s Miracle-Gro and its plans to permeate the cannabis industry. Despite recent choppy waters for the company’s place in the legal cannabis space, hydroponics now accounts for one-third of Miracle-Gro’s sales, with the increase of large-scale grow operations in states like California.
It should be noted that there was a lot of worry in the industry late last year with Monsanto’s toes in the water of cannabis. It has since died down, but we are not suggesting it’s an issue that should be lit up in smoke and forgotten.
Keeping an Eye on Safe Cannabis
The discourse surrounding cannabis fertilizers is worth noting and helps us become critical consumers. I would suggest you try and source your cannabis from “organic” growers.
Organic fertilizers use natural products, and by-products as well as lab-produced microorganisms (or microbes) to build the cultures that are designed to promote natural growth. These advanced techniques take into consideration some of the naturally occurring compounds in the earth’s elements and apply them to principles of growing. The unfortunate part is that these are usually underutilized, but are being promoted as important parts of agriculture, especially in underserved agricultural communities.
An Eye on Contaminated Cannabis
As the cannabis industry advances, the role of the cannabis distributor becomes increasingly important. These distributors, who facilitate the seed to sale relationship and business operations, are responsible for testing cannabis. This ensures that the product is free of pesticides and other contaminants such as mold, that could pose a threat to human health.
Last year, there was significant attention to the issue of contaminated cannabis found on the legal market. This raised issues for the emerging industry, bringing the tagline “buyer beware” to cannabis.
Fortunately, this didn’t shut down legalization, and it really won’t, but it does require all cannabis operations to be open about the ways their flower is grown, what pesticides are used, and for distributors to keep a tight watch on all operations.
Becoming a Conscious Consumer
Being aware of the issues we have explored here shouldn’t mean that you need to be paranoid about the cannabis you consume, but it should leave you curious.
Most of the times, your local dispensary will be open to questions about the way their sourced cannabis is grown. Some dispensaries also choose to support different types of growing practices, such as avoiding “Walmart Weed” in order to support small, local cannabis farmers. Those growers who are focused on quality and not quantity are more likely to choose ethical growing practices that cause no human harm and have an awareness of the threats of cutting corners for growing. They reinforce the needs for testing to uphold the industry’s integrity by producing and selling, clean cannabis.
If you’re a home grower, experiment with different organic growing techniques, or explore various forums or relationships with other women growers about their practices. How do they grow strong, beautiful, bountiful buds without using potentially harmful chemicals that we yet don’t fully understand?
Be aware, be informed, and be curious as you integrate cannabis within your overall approach to a healthy lifestyle. Next time, we will take a look at harmful additives in concentrates. Happy clean cannabis consumption!