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Marijuana Users have Lead and Other Heavy Metals identified in their Blood and Urine

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Marijuana Users have Lead and Other Heavy Metals identified in their Blood and Urine

(CTN News) –  According to a new study, certain marijuana users may have higher levels of lead and cadmium in their blood and urine, two heavy metals related to long-term health risks.

In a study of over 7,200 adults, those who reported using marijuana in the previous 30 days had 27% higher blood lead levels than those who indicated they didn’t use either marijuana or cigarettes.

According to the study, marijuana users had 22% higher levels of cadmium in their blood, published Wednesday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Urine samples yielded comparable results.

The researchers from Columbia University were well aware that cannabis plants can take heavy metals from soil and excel at it. Contaminants pass through the plant’s stalk and into the leaves and blooms.

However, current studies show that heavy metals found in cannabis plants can also get up in the human body.

There is no safe level of lead exposure because even low amounts can impair children’s brain development and cause learning and behavioral issues. Chronic lead exposure in adults raises the risk of high blood pressure, cardiac issues, and kidney damage.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation classifies cadmium as a human carcinogen. Low-level exposure, such as through tobacco smoke, may result in renal disease and brittle bones.

“For both cadmium and lead, these metals are likely to stay in the body for years, long after exposure ends,” said Tiffany Sanchez, research author and assistant professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Sanchez and her colleagues examined data from blood and urine samples gathered as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a program run by the National Centre for Health Statistics, between 2005 and 2018.

The data set did not distinguish how people took marijuana, such as edibles or joints. However, according to Sanchez, breathing lead is often worse than eating it. “The rate of absorption from inhalation is 100%,” she stated.

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Sanchez stated that while cigarettes are the most common source of cadmium exposure in the general population, the study found equal levels of exposure among cannabis users.

There are no standardized criteria for pollutants like heavy metals due to the patchwork nature of marijuana laws – the material is outlawed at the federal level, authorized for recreational use in 21 states, and permitted for therapeutic use in 38 states.

However, as many as 28 states regulate arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in marijuana products. As a result, producers must test for certain metals and ensure concentrations are below a predetermined range.

Even yet, Sanchez explained, “each state where cannabis is legal sets their levels of contaminants.” That is only for legal marijuana goods. Even in states where marijuana is legal, illegal sales persist.

“I know people who have gone to New York and will just see a dispensary and think, ‘Oh, it’s legal here,'” Jim Seaberg, assistant director of Drexel University’s Medical Cannabis Research Centre, who was not involved in the new study, said. “However, there are an increasing number of illegal dispensaries that are not regulated and do not sell regulated, tested products.”

He also stated that there are no government testing requirements for hemp-derived products. A 2022 study discovered lead, mercury, and other toxic elements in hemp-derived CBD e-cigarettes.

However, states are improving their screening for pollutants, according to Seaberg. He emphasized that Sanchez’s study contains data from before many states legalized marijuana.

He claims the easiest way to determine whether a marijuana product lacks heavy metals is to get it from a legitimate dispensary (state health department websites usually contain a list). He then advised asking the dispensary personnel for a certificate of analysis proving that heavy metals aren’t present in a certain product.

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