If you use marijuana – whether as a recreational substance and especially if you use it as a medicine – what is far more important than the strain is how the plants are grown.
Most growers, even if they advertise their product as “organic,” use nutrients that contain compounds known as plant growth regulators (PGRs) to compete on price or use toxic pesticides to save crops from diseases and pests.
PGRs are chemical substances that profoundly influence the growth and differentiation of plant cells, tissues and organs. Plant growth regulators function as chemical messengers for intercellular communication.
In today’s cannabis market, competition is extreme. Even a casual glance at local newspapers that carry ads for marijuana dispensaries will reveal that the competition is all about price. Marijuana that used to cost $400 an ounce now sells for less than $100. This makes the use of PGRs to dramatically shorten growing times and increase bud weight compelling.
Unfortunately, as with many things, when consumers buy into this game, the consumer gets what they pay for. They may get a gram for $4, but what they don’t realize is that they may be setting themselves up to develop serious health issues including cancer, neurological problems, liver problems and much more.
Product advertised as “organic” and offered at $4 – $6 a gram should be a big danger sign for responsible consumers. The cost of growing truly organic marijuana without PGRs and toxic pesticides makes such pricing impossible.
Contrary to what the manufacturers of PGRs and the many growers who use them might claim, PGRs are not the same as natural plant hormones. They are synthetic chemicals specifically designed to moderate plant behavior, and many are extremely toxic.
Remember that marijuana is a cash crop. Each plant in can be worth up between $500 and $1,000. Because most growers are motivated by profit, it becomes easy to justify the use of products that dramatically shorten flowering time, increase bud weight, or both.
Due to their extremely toxic nature, most PGRs have been banned for use in food crops since the 1970s but are still widely used in the cultivation of marijuana today. Because marijuana is considered an illegal drug at the level of the federal government, the FDA and other government agencies refuse to either regulate PDRs or inform the public about their dangers.
Because marijuana cultivation has become such a huge business, manufacturers take advantage of this situation. Formulators are not always required to list every ingredient in their products; claiming that their recipes are “trade secrets.” When marijuana is grown with products that make this claim, the consumer should see it as a big red flag.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) tested several products, and the findings have since been made public, thanks, in part to the Freedom of Information Act.
Bushmaster, Top Load, Flower Dragon, PhosphoLoad, and Gravity are just a few of the products that are popular among growers. This is not an exclusive list. There are many others. Not only are these products toxic, but also how they are marketed is extremely deceptive, often leading well-meaning but uninformed growers to think that the products are actually “organic” or at least “all-natural.”
Thanks to the CDFA report, we now know that Gravity does, in fact, contain a PGR called Paclobutrazol (PACLO.) In plants, this chemical retards internode length and reduces maturation time significantly. When used on marijuana, this results in tighter flowering tops that can be harvested much earlier.
This has made Gravity an attractive fertilizer additive to many unsuspecting or downright unscrupulous growers. Unfortunately, tests on rats demonstrate that the product may cause serious liver damage and could be highly carcinogenic. Paclobutrazol is only one of many toxic PGRs used to cultivate marijuana.
Other alleged PGR tainted products include: Superbud, Purple Maxx, Boonta Bud, Rox, Rock Juice, Cyco Flower, Yield Masta, and Mr No. There are many others.
So how can you become an informed consumer? Unfortunately, it isn’t easy. Many nutrient manufacturing companies that growers trust and give their money to – including General Hydroponics, Dutch Master, Humboldt Nutrients, Emerald Triangle, Humboldt County’s Own, Hit Manufacturing, and many others, have included PGRs in their products, and have thereby endangered the health of consumers of marijuana!
Labels for these products rarely if ever mention PACLO or any other toxic PGRs.
They only talk about kelp, humic acids, amino acids, phosphorus, and potassium. All of these products sound natural and benign. There is absolutely no mention of anything that’s dangerous. That is no accident.
Because manufacturers of hydroponic nutrient solutions aren’t required to list all of the ingredients in their products reading labels isn’t very helpful. Growers pick up a bottle of something because of its reputation. Sellers say: “Trust me, I don’t know why it works – it just works.”
When ingested, many of these products are neurotoxic and carcinogenic to human beings. Some of these PGRs break down into other metabolites that are even more toxic than the original substance. Here is an interesting link to a video posted on YouTube that addresses the issue:
Besides PGRs, there is another class of toxic chemicals used in the production of marijuana, and that is pesticides.
Remember, the financial repercussions of pests like spider mites or diseases like powdery mildew can be severe to a marijuana grower who depends on the success of their crop to sustain cash flow. Imagine a company that has a 50,000s square-foot grow facing a powdery mildew outbreak. That could easily cost that grower over $1,000,000. What about the small grower who grows out of his home as a care-taker for a small number of patients? For many, the temptation to use these products is just too much to resist.
How toxic can they be? One typical product is Eagle 20 Pesticide. Here is what they say on the label: “Inhalation may cause central nervous system effects. On animals effects have been reported in the liver, testes, adrenal gland, kidney, and thyroid. Contains chemicals known to cause cancer. Eagle 20 is considered by the EPA to pose both an immediate and a delayed health hazard.”
The fact that Eagle 20 is a known endocrine disruptor is the most concerning. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with endocrine (the hormone system) in animals and humans even at extremely low doses. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and developmental disorders such as learning disabilities, severe attention deficit disorder, cognitive and brain development problems, deformations of the body, sexual development problems, feminizing of males, and masculine effects on females.
Worse yet, if a developing fetus is exposed to and affected by endocrine disruptors, it can take decades for adverse effects to manifest. Even more disturbing, it appears that the effects of endocrine disruptors are passed from generation to generation through epigenetic modification of our DNA. Some research indicates that the effects are trans-generational, meaning that the hazardous health effects can be passed on for multiple generations.
So not only can exposure to products like Eagle 20 cause hazardous health effects in you, but they can also cause hazardous health effects in your children, and possibly even you grand-children, decades after you were initially exposed.
So what should the responsible consumer of these products do?
1. Start by realizing that cheap marijuana is no bargain – no matter how compelling the ads, and no matter what the grower may say. Good, organic or all-natural top quality bud should cost at least $8 if not $10 or more a gram. That is because grown naturally, marijuana takes longer to grow, will require more nutrients and more expensive nutrients, and will not produce the weight of product grown with PGRs.
2. Also realize that while lab reports in Colorado test for potency and may identify products contaminated with pesticides, metals, and solvents, they typically do not report the presence of PGRs. This means that just because a product has been tested by a lab, it doesn’t mean it is safe from these substances.
3. Reputable growers with integrity value transparency. Our patients at Eagle’s Nest are always welcome to take a tour of our grow and inspect the nutrients we use at any time. Where you shop should always be willing to do the same. If not – steer clear.
Conclusion: While marijuana can be a powerful medicine for many health conditions, if grown using PGRs and toxic pesticides, it can be a tremendous health hazard. Unscrupulous or uneducated growers pose a major risk to unsuspecting consumers. Especially if you are a cancer patient or someone suffering from neurological problems, liver or other digestive issues, or chronic viral infections like AIDS.
There are many cannabinoids that are known to be powerful medicines for diseases like cancer, multiple-sclerosis, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, arthritis, PTSD, and more. Of these cannabinoids, cannabidiol or CBD is emerging as one of the most important.
It is therefore no surprise that CBD medicines are now starting to proliferate in the market. However, most of these use CBD oil that originates in China. Lab tests reveal that such oil contains high amounts of heavy metals like arsenic, mercury and cadmium. No cancer patient would ever want to take high levels of arsenic. It would be like throwing gasoline onto a fire.
To be effective cannabis must be grown organically without PGRs, prepared without harmful organic solvents, and administered in therapeutic doses.
Eagle’s Nest Wellness Center, LLC. is devoted to our patient’s well-being. Our purpose is to provide the highest quality cannabis and cannabis products as a medicine to those in need. Not only do we provide products our patients can trust, but we are expert at calculating mixes and dosages for various illnesses.
Editor’s Note: Biochemist, author, and expert at Natural Medicine, Lono Ho’ala is the Chief Executive Officer of Eagle’s Nest Wellness Center in Cascade, a state leader in the use of medical-grade marijuana for serious disease.