Federal marijuana prohibition is leading to contaminated products

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Instead of reportedly protecting consumers, the federal government’s cannabis ban is hurting them

Consumers appear to have one obstacle when it comes to obtaining safe products, the federal ban. According to a new study resulting from a year-long investigation into the prevalence of various contaminants in lab-tested cannabis, patients could be at risk of consuming contaminated products if federal cannabis reform continues to stall.

After analyzing robust data from samples collected in California and disparities in states’ legal approaches to contaminants, the research team concluded that the lack of consistent federal guidelines on cannabis contaminants puts consumers at greater health risk. The specialists were led by Dr. Maxwell CK Leung at Arizona State University.

Legal consumer products must always be subject to US Department of Agriculture (USDA) or Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. However, as cannabis remains a Schedule I controlled substance, it does not enjoy such regulatory guidelines, raising doubts as to whether or not its products are actually harmful to health.

The newly published article argues that “the dispersed approach to state-level regulations may confuse cannabis manufacturers and discourage compliance while subjecting cannabis consumers to a higher level of exposure to contaminants in some jurisdictions.” This undoubtedly raises many concerns as marijuana products are marketed as effective alternatives to usual medical treatments.

Lacking a regulatory process around the quality and safety of cannabis-derived products, it is unclear whether the treatments are actually a better option than traditional treatments. While it is true that the paper does not offer specific suggestions, it highlights “an urgent need for a unified regulatory approach to mitigate the public health risk of cannabis contamination nationwide.”