The Canadian government has discovered what it describes as “unacceptable levels of bacteria, fungi and heavy metals” in cannabis sold in British Columbia’s black market.
The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and the National Collaborating Centre on Environmental Health has just completed a pilot study that examined samples from cannabis seized from the country’s black market.
In the study, researchers examined each sample for traces of pesticides, arsenic, bacteria, fungi, and other creepy crawlies. They tested a total of 20 different samples, only three of which would have met the standards to be sold in a licensed (and legal) cannabis dispensary. A further nine of those samples were so contaminated that they would be outright rejected for sale, while the remaining eight were dubious enough to warrant further investigation.
Researchers in the program also noticed an alarming amount of contaminants in the cannabis samples. Only two of the samples contained no pesticide residue, while 18 contained pesticide residue (some of which are dangerous to humans). Of those 18, the “majority of samples” contained residue from four or more different pesticides. One cannabis sample contained eight pesticides.
Many of the samples were also contaminated with arsenic. Four out of 20 samples contained “unacceptable” levels of arsenic – which can cause poisoning, cancer and even death.
According to British Columbia’s Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, the pilot program shows that black market cannabis is dangerous and that if you buy cannabis, you should “buy it legal”.
You may be under the illusion that this is all produced in an organic, pesticide-free environment. The reality is, what we’re finding, is it is not.
British Columbia currently has 370 legal cannabis retailers that sell safe cannabis to adults. This isn’t a luxury we have in Australia. As black market cannabis is produced to fund criminal enterprises, it’s usually produced cheaply in poor conditions.
If black market bud in British Columbia is so highly contaminated, it’s likely the situation is the same here in Australia. The experts are right: a new approach to cannabis is needed for the sake of public health.