Study Finds Unsafe Levels Of Toxic Metals In Commercially Available Cannabis Rolling Papers

Zinger Key Points
  • Researchers at Lake Superior State University found high levels of copper and other metals in popular cannabis rolling papers.
  • Health implications include potential links to neurodegenerative diseases and pose risk specially to frequent and medical users.

Cannabis users might be inhaling harmful metals from their rolling papers, a new study published in ACS Omega reveals. Researchers found concerning levels of heavy metals such as copper, chromium and vanadium in cannabis rolling papers, posing potential health risks.

The study examined the metal content in 53 different rolling papers and cones popular in the cannabis industry, with findings that could alarm both casual and heavy cannabis users.

Significant Findings And Health Risks 

The research team at Michigan’s Lake Superior State University discovered that about one-quarter of the tested products exceeded safe inhalation limits for metals, primarily copper. These elevated levels were found in papers with colored designs or metallic tips, commonly used for aesthetic appeal. According to the study, the presence of these metals, particularly in colored papers, is alarming given their potential neurotoxic effects, including a possible link to neurodegenerative diseases.

"Most consumers appear to think that someone in the government must regulate this," Derek Wright, the study’s co-author, told C&EN. However, while some states regulate the metal content in cannabis flowers, they do not extend these regulations to rolling papers. This oversight could lead to significant health risks, particularly for those who use cannabis therapeutically and may already be vulnerable due to existing health conditions.

A Call For Industry Response

In response to these findings, experts are calling for more stringent regulations and a shift towards safer production practices. "If we can identify where potentially toxic chemicals are coming from, we can eventually use that information to make a safer product," Wright noted.

Daniel Curtis, an analytical and atmospheric chemist consulted by C&EN, suggests future studies should focus on how metals transfer from paper through combustion. Moreover, with cannabis use on the rise, identifying and mitigating sources of toxic chemicals is crucial for ensuring consumer safety and enhancing the overall quality of cannabis products.

Innovations Towards Safer Smoking

Amidst these concerns, companies like RAW are leading the way in developing safer alternatives. RAW recently launched a new rolling paper designed to minimize the paper’s presence and enhance the natural flavors of cannabis. These papers are significantly thinner than traditional options, reducing potential contaminants.

As cannabis use continues to grow, ensuring the safety of products to reduce their associated risks and harms becomes increasingly crucial for the industry to grow responsibly.

Photo: Elsa Olofsson On Unsplash.

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Posted In: CannabisNewsRegulationsHealth CareACS Omegacannabis conescannabis rolling papersDaniel CurtisDerek WrightLake Superior State UniversityRolling Papers
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