In addition to legalizing it for recreational use, there’s also an ongoing push to ensure that consumers only get access to pesticide-free marijuana. However, these regulations have failed to include paraphernalia used in smoking pot, e.g., blunt wraps and rolling papers.
According to a recent study by SC Labs – a California-based lab – several popular wrapping papers are heavily contaminated with pesticides and other heavy metals. Although many renowned papers are clean, including ours, others are not.
The researchers at this lab spent sixty days this past summer testing a total of 118 smoking products. In their study, they concentrated on products such as:
• Cellulose rolling papers
• Rolling papers
Products tested in the study were either purchased on Amazon or from the smoke shops located in and around Santa Cruz. The results of this study showed that close to 90 percent of the products tested for heavy metals were contaminated.
They each had at least one heavy metal present in them. Excellent examples of heavy metals include:
Of the widely known heavy metals, lead was the most prevalent. Studies have shown that overexposure to the abovementioned metals can lead to various health issues. They can cause kidney problems, cancer, and neurotoxicity in humans.
Results from the Pesticide Tests
On conducting tests for pesticides, the researchers at SC Labs established the following:
• 16 percent of the test products had detectable pesticide levels
• Of this, 5 percent had levels that exceeded the permissible levels in California
While all this sounds like bad news to marijuana smokers, it’s not all bad, especially for those who prefer paper rolling products. Studies on the rolling papers showed that no single brand had violated the California pesticide standards.
Unfortunately, the same doesn’t apply to cellulose-based rolling papers. Two major brands were seen to contain extremely high levels of pesticides contamination. Both had surpassed the set limits, which currently stand at 0.5 micrograms of lead for each gram.
For every ten rolling papers tested by the lab, one was found to have been contaminated. Ours were found to be clean and free of any form of contamination. In the case of blunt wraps, eight out of every twenty tested wraps were impure.
The same applied to all the three-cellulose-based rolling papers included in the study.
Results from the Blunt Wraps
The researchers also conducted tests on flavored blunt wraps and hemp-based wraps. One thing they found to be strange is that all these wraps didn’t pass the tests. The research indicates that they all had detectable levels of:
Based on these results, it’s clear that heavy metals appear to be the bigger problem compared to pesticides. Cellulose-based rolling papers are the dirtiest of all the different rolling papers studied in this research.
According to Josh Wurzer, the president of SC Labs and study author, hemp rolling papers appeared to fail most of these tests because there are too many of them in the market. And this is despite being promoted as a cleaner and more natural option.
Another issue is that these papers are thicker, which may be contributing to the issue at hand. In an interview with Forbes, Wurzer stated that while this study may show the presence of contaminants, they shouldn’t cause any alarm among smokers.
He added that “When mixed with clean pot, even contaminated rolling papers would create a “clean” product.” From the results of this study, it’s clear that the state of California made the right call by mandating that all final packaged products get tested.
If the results of this study are to be taken as a representation of all cannabis paraphernalia, other states may want to make changes to their requirements. Although ceasing smoking altogether would be an overreaction, it may be time that smokers exercised caution.
Cannabis smokers need to consider the products they use when engaging in recreational smoking. Apart from products, they should also consider their frequency of use. For example, if you have been smoking three joints a day using blunt wraps, you may want to reconsider this.
The study shows that regular old rolling papers are relatively clean. Habitual smokers may want to consider switching to these instead of using blunt wraps. The reality is that most cannabis experts aren’t shocked by these findings.
All rolling papers are made using plants, which naturally tend to absorb contaminants and pesticides present in the soil. Another factor to note is that despite being a $1.2 billion industry, the rolling papers segment isn’t as heavily regulated like the other cannabis industries.
The takeaway from this study is that many commercial cannabis rolling papers aren’t quite clean. A majority either contain pesticides or heavy metals.
What’s the General Implication for Consumers?
The SC Labs was quick to note that while the findings mentioned above may appear alarming, they’re more nuanced than they seem. Consumers need to understand that certain categories of rolling papers are much more contaminated than the rest.
Cannabis smokers that should be alarmed are those that favor cellulose-based rolling papers. According to the findings of this report, they are either highly contaminated or appear to be so.
Although they don’t contain detectable amounts of pesticides, the same can’t be said for heavy metals. The amounts of lead detected in all these products are quite worrying. For example:
When looking at the cellulose-based rolling papers, it was established that the amounts of lead present were a thousand times higher than the inhalable limit. The author of this study cautions on the use of these papers.
He adds that it would be wise to consider using other alternatives until additional data becomes available. The other cannabis rolling products, including ours, remain safe for use. Moreover, they only make up a small portion of today’s pre-roll products.
Consumers should act on products such as wraps that returned positive results for heavy metal contaminations and pesticides. Wurzer recommended that “I would maybe be wary that if I consumed a lot of these wraps every day that maybe I’d want to cut back.”
He went on to add that, “I’d treat it sort of like how we treat some types of fish that are known to have high levels of mercury. It’s upon you as the customer to limit your daily or weekly intake of these products if you’re to stay healthy and free of diseases.”
According to Wurzer, consumers must understand that rolling papers don’t enjoy the same levels of regulation as cannabis. Companies manufacturing these rolling papers should note that their products can cause severe health conditions.
Such conditions can expose them to liability, particularly where batch testing is concerned. Therefore, it may be a good idea for product manufacturers to re-evaluate their product quality standards.
It’s the only way to ensure that their final products are clean and safe for human use.
What About the Organic Alternatives?
The tobacco industry is very similar to the dieting industry: organic alternatives for blunt wraps exist. But as is the case with organic cigarettes, such blunts are likely to contain nicotine. As seen in most studies, nicotine is highly addictive.
It’s believed that it’s also likely to contain a cancer-causing chemical. The reality is that even organic cigarette brands that claim to contain no additives may, in fact, have high nicotine levels. These levels may be higher than in normal chemical-based cigarettes.
Although they may not contain tobacco and other known pesticides, they may have high nitrosamines concentrations. These are carcinogenic toxins that are produced during the fermentation process.
Another thing to note is that blunt wrappers tend to be more porous than your everyday standard rolling paper. Their porous nature often results in high smoke inhalation. Remember that this smoke may contain other known toxins.
Though the presence of detectable contaminants may not be cause for alarm right now, this may change as more states and countries legalize marijuana for recreational use. Legalization will lead to an uptake of pre-rolled blunts and joints.
As such, lack of proper contaminant monitoring may put more cannabis users at risk. It will also be an issue of concern among people who smoke marijuana for medicinal reasons.
What’s the Solution Going Forward?
Rolling products have a long history all over the United States. They’re mainly linked to tobacco use. As more states legalize cannabis use, the market for rolling papers will expand, leading to the emergence of new uses.
It’s a scenario that shows the need to update rolling paper regulations. While laboratory tests can guarantee their quality, the existing scheme of spot testing cannabis can’t act as a long-term solution.
It fails to address issues such as contamination that occurs during the production of cannabis products. States need to develop a comprehensive solution to ensure that rolling paper manufacturers won’t replace the toxic ingredients with even more harmful compounds.
And until this can happen, all consumers can do is choose their rolling papers carefully. Remember, the study results mentioned in this article don’t apply to all rolling papers. Some, including ours, are free of pesticides and heavy metal contaminants.
We take the health and safety of our consumers seriously.