What’s in the Weed You’re Smoking?

While filming the upcoming documentary Toxic Profits over the last six months, I have been speaking with people about extremely hazardous pesticides that are used in agriculture across the world. These discussions about pesticide use on food for animal and human consumption prompted my discovery of a very under-reported and interesting phenomenon: the use of large amounts of unregulated pesticides to grow cannabis.

Dan Tomaski, who runs northern Michigan’s most comprehensive medical marijuana testing lab service, found that some marijuana contains mold and pesticides at levels more than 60 times those allowed for store-bought spinach. Yet, unlike pesticides on produce, there are zero regulations for pesticides on marijuana, and no single pesticide has ever been approved for use on marijuana.

Despite the lack of regulation, some marijuana growers continue to maximize profit by heavily spraying their marijuana to grow as much pot as quickly as they can — so much so that Agent Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Game estimated that 1.5 pounds of fertilizers and pesticides are used for every 11.5 plants. His message to weed smokers is: “You ain’t just smoking pot, bud. You’re smoking some heavy-duty pesticides.”

What is even more disturbing is that many of these “heavy-duty pesticides” being used on marijuana are actually only approved for non-human consumption and intended for use on lawns, golf courses, and sports fields, for example. In an interview for this article, Chris Van Hook, a former farmer and California medical marijuana attorney, stated that “initial pesticide screening results of medical cannabis out in the marketplace show a widespread use of insecticides and pesticides that are not registered for edible crops, much less medical cannabis.” Van Hook also noted that expansions of these studies, as well as the development of safe pesticides for use on cannabis, are hindered by the continued federal illegality of marijuana use, growth, and possession.

– Read the entire article at PolicyMic.



  1. gutrod on

    The health of pot smokers is at the very bottom of the totem pole when it comes to Federal health concerns. They just hope we all die and go away which is what might happen. Not from the pot which is basically harmless but from slow chemical poisoning. I don’t believe that there have ever been any government funded studies on this issue either in Canada or the USA. If not addressed it could be a major drain on our health systems down the road not to mention a major brain drain to the economy if many of these people are unable to work as a direct result. They will certainly miss the tax revenues that will be lost. When it comes to cannabis use in N.A. our governments are not the humanitarians that they would like to be perceived by
    the world. Far from it and just the opposite.

  2. kim hanna on

    Pesticides for edible crops have NEVER been
    tested when smoked. So even food grade
    pesticides may be dangerous when smoked.

  3. Anonymouse on

    This has been an issue for a very long time. Adulterated cannabis is common when the adulterants are pesticides (paraquat from the 70s), fertilizers and fungus.

    Thanks to medicinal cannabis, we now have clean green and dispensaries, like Harborside, testing all cannabis before it is sold.

    I am sure Colorado and Washington will create some kind of standard (ppm) for cannabis products. Even if they do not, the cultivators and providers will use clean tested cannabis as a means to set themselves apart from the rest.

  4. Anonymous UK on

    Grow your own – just enough for yourself. For most people this is a very small set-up that can be hidden and no one needs to know (not even your best buddy – no one !!). Keep everywhere around your grow surgically clean, get the temperature, airflow etc right and you won’t need pesticides of any kind ! Use a simple fertiliser that is approved for use with fruit crops and don’t over use it – cannabis is a weed it does not need too much coaxing to grow. Many grow shops will try to sell you all sorts of expensive super bloom formulas but they only increase yield by a small amount and are really for greedy commercial growers -much better to choose good seed stock and keep those plants healthy through the whole life cycle. Make sure you flush fertiliser thoroughly before harvest and then cure your dried weed for at least 6 weeks before using.

    One last thing don’t trust anyone selling weed that you have not seen grow and harvest – they probably don’t even know how bad the stuff is that they are selling to you.

    God we need regulation so bad !