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Dangerous levels of pesticides in legal weed, USA


3 min read

Jun 17




An investigation by the Los Angeles Times and Weed Week has uncovered widespread pesticide contamination in legal cannabis products sold in California. Testing revealed that over half of the cannabis products, including popular vape brands, contained pesticides at levels exceeding state and federal safety limits.

These chemicals pose significant health risks, particularly to medical users. The California Department of Cannabis Control has been criticized for its inadequate response, failing to act on numerous contamination complaints and lacking stringent testing protocols.

The findings highlight systemic issues in the state's cannabis industry, including regulatory failures, profit-driven contamination, and the use of low-quality, pesticide-laden cannabis in vape products.

The investigation by the Los Angeles Times and WeedWeek found several alarming issues with pesticide contamination in California’s legal cannabis products, revealing significant health risks and regulatory failures. Here's a detailed account of the dangers highlighted in the article:

Health Risks from Pesticides

1. Types of Pesticides Detected:

- The investigation found 25 out of 42 tested cannabis products had pesticide levels exceeding state or federal limits.

- Some of the detected pesticides include chemicals linked to cancer, liver failure, thyroid disease, genetic harm, and neurological damage to users and unborn children.

2. High-Risk Chemicals:

- Fenvalerate: A fungicide known to lower sperm counts and banned in the U.S. since 2008.

- Pymetrozine: An insecticide linked to liver cancer and hormonal disruption, banned in several countries but not included in California’s testing list.

- Propargite: A carcinogenic insecticide associated with brain-cell death and Parkinson's disease, found in some vapes at nearly three times the permissible levels for cigarettes.

- Chlorfenapyr: Detected at 2,000 times above the minimum detection level, prohibited in any amount.

3. Concentration in Vapes:

- Vapes were found to have particularly high levels of pesticide contamination, with some containing up to two dozen different pesticides.

- The concentration of pesticides increases during the extraction process for THC oil used in vapes, making these products more dangerous than others.

4. Long-Term Exposure:

- Most pesticides were found in low concentrations that pose a risk of long-term harm through repeated use.

- Long-term health effects may include chronic diseases and reproductive issues, though the full extent of harm might not be known for years.

Regulatory Failures and Gaps

1. Inadequate Testing and Regulation:

- California’s testing requirements have not been updated since 2018, failing to include many dangerous chemicals currently in use.

- The Department of Cannabis Control has been slow to initiate market tests for pesticides and has not acted promptly on contamination complaints.

2. Lack of Transparency and Accountability:

- The Department of Cannabis Control refused to release information on pesticide contamination and its ability to test cannabis products, citing concerns about encouraging bad actors.

- The agency also failed to provide safety certificates for cannabis products and did not disclose actions taken on contamination complaints.

3. Dependence on Private Labs:

- Cannabis testing is done by state-approved independent labs, but there is no state-run lab accredited to test for pesticides, leaving the industry largely self-regulated.

- Labs financially dependent on cannabis companies may have conflicts of interest, potentially compromising the accuracy and honesty of their tests.

4. Failure to Act on Contaminations:

- The state’s regulatory body was slow to issue recalls and only did so after significant delays and external pressure.

- Complaints about contaminated products from private labs were often ignored or not acted upon in a timely manner, allowing unsafe products to remain on the market.

Exploitation and Legal Issues

1. Worker Exploitation:

- Reports of workers being forced to apply harmful pesticides and suffering health consequences, such as nausea and disorientation, were highlighted.

- Legal actions have been taken by workers against companies for unsafe working conditions and exposure to toxic chemicals.

2. Market Incentives and Corruption:

- The high profitability of contaminated cannabis encourages illegal practices and the use of unapproved pesticides.

- The industry’s reliance on low-quality weed, often contaminated, is driven by the need to meet the growing demand for vape products, leading to further health risks.

Consumer Deception

1. Misleading Safety Claims:

- The state’s promotional campaigns claim cannabis is safe and regulated, which is contradicted by the findings of widespread contamination.

- Consumers, especially those using cannabis for medical purposes, are misled into believing the products are safe, exposing them to significant health risks.

2. Youth Targeting:

- Cannabis products, especially vapes with high contamination levels, are marketed to young adults who might see vaping as a healthier alternative to tobacco or alcohol, increasing their exposure to harmful chemicals.


The article exposes a significant public health concern regarding the safety of California’s legal cannabis market. The findings point to systemic regulatory failures, widespread pesticide contamination, and the exploitation of both workers and consumers. The lack of stringent oversight and transparency exacerbates the risks, with potentially severe long-term health consequences for users.



3 min read

Jun 17





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