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Recent Study Highlights The Public Health Need To Regulate Cannabis

cannabis flower buds

A team of researchers in Canada recently analyzed testing results for unregulated and regulated cannabis samples, and they described the difference in contamination rates between the two as having a “striking contrast.”

“In this study, we describe an expanded 327 multi-residue pesticide analysis in cannabis inflorescence to confirm if the implementation of the Cannabis Act is providing safer licensed products to Canadians in comparison to those of the illicit market.” the researchers stated about their study.

Canada implemented the Cannabis Act in late 2018, making it the first G-7 nation to pass a national adult-use cannabis legalization measure. One of the top goals of Canada’s cannabis policy modernization effort was to enact regulations to reduce contamination rates in the products that people were consuming.

“An extensive multi-residue method was developed using a modified quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe (QuEChERS) sample preparation method using a combination of gas chromatography—triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (GC–MS/MS) and liquid chromatography—triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) for the simultaneous quantification of 327 pesticide active ingredients in cannabis inflorescence.” researchers stated about the testing method used on the samples involved in the study, which was first reported by Marijuana Moment.

“Application of this method to Canadian licensed inflorescence samples revealed a 6% sample positivity rate with only two pesticide residues detected, myclobutanil, and dichlobenil, at the method’s lowest calibrated level (LCL) of 0.01 μg/g.” researchers stated about the regulated samples.

“Canadian illicit cannabis inflorescence samples analysed showed a striking contrast with a 92% sample positivity rate covering 23 unique pesticide active ingredients with 3.7 different pesticides identified on average per sample. Chlorpyrifos, imidacloprid, and myclobutanil were measured in illicit samples at concentrations up to three orders of magnitude above the method LCL of 0.01 μg/g.” researchers stated about the unregulated samples.

The difference in contamination rates largely speaks for itself regarding the effectiveness of regulating cannabis products. In an unregulated market, the number one incentive is to make as much money as possible, and that all but guarantees that humans will cut corners at the expense of consumers. That principle is reflected in the results of this recent study.

Compare that to a regulated industry where products must be tested before being sold to ensure that the inputs that went into creating them are not harmful to humans. Sensible regulations boost the safety of all consumables available to purchasers, and cannabis is no exception.

Reducing the rate of contaminated cannabis use is at the heart of current cannabis policy modernization efforts in Europe, largely led by Germany. Whereas various continental agreements apparently prohibit nationwide legalized commerce in Europe (at least according to the EU), reforming cannabis policies to boost public health outcomes is perfectly legal.

The nuanced difference in policy reform approach is why nations like Switzerland are allowed to create regional adult-use cannabis commerce pilots, and why Malta is allowed to permit noncommercial cannabis clubs. Both policy modernization components are geared toward boosting the availability of regulated cannabis to reduce the consumption of unregulated cannabis.

When consumers are afforded the option to purchase regulated cannabis versus unregulated cannabis in Canada, they choose regulated cannabis more often than not according to the results of a study that was published earlier this year. If Canada’s regulations were more sensible, and prices were lower as a result, even more consumers would choose to make their purchases from regulated sources.

Adults are going to consume cannabis whether it is legal to do so or not. Enough time has passed to prove that cannabis prohibition does not lower usage rates. All prohibition does is push consumers to unregulated sources, which as demonstrated in the study at the heart of this article, those unregulated sources are often selling tainted cannabis.

Elected officials and bureaucrats need to recognize reality and choose to prioritize the public health outcomes of nations around the world. Effective cannabis policies involve licensing regulated outlets, as well as educating the public on the benefits of making purchases from regulated outlets, not the least of which is that the cannabis is proven to be safe to consume.