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In 1988, DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young ruled that, “Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.” And, although the DEA ignored Judge Young’s recommendation to reclassify the plant from its federal status as a dangerous drug with no medical value, smoking cannabis remains relatively benign with little-to-no side effects.
That said, it’s important to understand certain safety consequences with regard to cultivating cannabis, especially in light of its increased commercialization in medical marijuana states. As an example, in May the States of California and Oregon removed from the retail hydroponic market several popular flowering additives after the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) found them to contain high levels of long-banned Daminozide (Alar), a known “probable” human carcinogen.
A subsequent Freedom of Information Act request yielded the concentrations of Daminozide in products such as Flower Dragon, Phosphoload, and Top Load. Two other products quarantined in the CDFA sweep, Emerald Triangle Bushmaster and Gravity, were found to contain Paclobutrazol, which has been listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as moderately hazardous and banned for use in many European countries.
According to G. Low, author of Integral Hydroponics and the one who filed the recent FOIA request, “In field situations, Paclobutrazol has a half-life ranging from 3 to12 months, but could persist as long as 3 years.” G. Low added that:
Both Paclobutrazol and Daminozide are systemic products with long withholding periods, meaning that it is likely to remain residual in harvested produce when used to cultivate a short-term deciduous crop (i.e. cannabis). What these toxins do under combustion when ingested into the lungs is a completely unknown factor. However, the Material Safety Data Sheet for Paclobutrazol states that when it’s heated to decomposition it emits toxic fumes.
Daminozide was banned in the U.S. in 1989 for use on any consumable crop. Calling Alar a “potent human carcinogen” at the time, 60 Minutes ran a program that exposed the widespread use of Alar by U.S. apple growers.
So how did known carcinogens find their way back onto the market?
In each instance, these popular products were marketed to cultivators as containing organic actives (e.g. “kelp”, “rare earth elements”, “citrates”, “humatic isolates,” etc.) and sold in retail hydroponic stores throughout the U.S.
So that patients do not unwittingly become pawns in an increasingly commercial market driven by quantity and efficiency, as opposed to safety, the patient community must demand responsible cultivation methods, limiting the use of harmful pesticides, herbicides and other toxic adulterants.