Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s safe.

Plus: Can breakfast cereal be healthy?

Friday. Like plastic straws and superhero movies, Beyond Meat has had a bit of a tough last couple of years. With its declining sales and stock price, the faux meat brand just rolled out its latest iteration of make-believe beef (SEE IT HERE… or don’t). Beyond IV will “pack in more protein, less saturated fat, and less sodium than its previous plant-based patties.” It's too bad they still aren’t fooling any of us. 

Speaking of getting fooled, are marijuana users actually getting their hands on a safer product now that pot is legal? Not according to the Wall Street Journal. Let’s dive in.


Just Because It’s Legal Doesn’t Mean It’s Safe

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As the popularity of marijuana use grows across the United States, so does the concern over its safety. Medical marijuana use is now legal in 40 states. Recreational use of cannabis has been approved in the District of Columbia and 24 states (SEE THE MAP HERE). Weed is seemingly everywhere, and it is here to stay. But is it safe?  

For marijuana users, the excitement of being able to legally purchase cannabis products is quickly becoming dampened by reports of serious health issues caused by contaminants like arsenic, lead, mold, and even life-threatening fungi found in cannabis products (READ THE WSJ ARTICLE). 

Studies reveal that individuals who use marijuana might have higher amounts of heavy metals in their bloodstream and are at a greater risk of developing fungal infections. Some people have suffered from conditions as severe as sudden numbness, lung bleeding that can be fatal, and artery disease leading to amputations due to the severity of these contaminants. Yikes. 

The marijuana plant, being a bioaccumulator, is excellent at absorbing heavy metals and other harmful substances from the soil, as well as pesticides and fungal spores during cultivation and harvest. While beneficial for cleaning contaminated soil like at the Chernobyl site (YES—THEY DID THIS), this trait poses a significant risk when the plant is used for consumption. 

Personal stories, like that of Anne Hassel from the WSJ article, who experienced numbness and twitching after using marijuana, highlight the alarming dangers of these contaminants. Despite marijuana's newly legal status in many states, the lack of regulation and standardized testing for contaminants puts consumers at risk.

Currently, the regulation of marijuana safety is inconsistent, with some states like California requiring thorough testing for a wide range of contaminants, while others have no such mandates. The absence of national standards and federal oversight has led to a situation where consumers cannot be sure of the safety of the products they are buying. 

This lack of certainty is compounded by the fact that marijuana growers, who are responsible for testing their products in some states, might face conflicts of interest that could compromise the safety of the products. Thorough testing can be expensive, which cuts into the bottom line. To put it bluntly, guaranteeing a safe product is bad for business, at least in the short term. 

Health experts and researchers are raising alarms about the potential health risks associated with contaminated cannabis. It is becoming clear that users are more likely to develop fungal infections and have elevated levels of dangerous metals in their bodies. However, despite these concerns, the growth in marijuana use and the proliferation of stores selling cannabis products haven’t slowed down. Calls for more stringent regulations and standardized testing are growing louder, with some advocating for the creation of a national office to oversee medical and recreational cannabis. 

The key takeaway? It is clear that we need better consumer protections and more rigorous oversight in the cannabis industry. While marijuana might offer benefits for some, the risks associated with contaminated products can’t be something we ignore. As the industry continues to grow, safety standards must be implemented to prevent harm to users. Legal should mean safe, but that is not really the case today.


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