When it comes to your medical marijuana, do you actually know what’s best for your body?
The package may list the strain, terpene profile, and even some testing information, but patients sometimes have to dig a little deeper to determine whether a cannabis product’s cultivation method should be a consideration.
Since the federal government has not legalized medical marijuana, it doesn’t regulate it. There’s little to no data available on the safest growing practices, and no national standards for pesticides. Simply put, there are no unified standards for growing cannabis. Where medical marijuana in most states is highly regulated to attempt to ensure the cleanest medicine possible, there’s no way to really be certain.
By paying closer attention to the cultivation practices your favorite growers implement, you may be able to better understand how the cannabis you choose is affecting you.
What Makes Cannabis Organic?
Organic cannabis grows in natural soil without any assistance from pesticides or chemicals to accelerate production. Organically grown plants depend on natural nutrients, soil, and sunlight.
You may ask why all cannabis isn’t grown organically. Short answer: Greater yields. With the legalization of medical marijuana in nearly half of the states, today’s growers often focus on faster production and may use untested technology to pump up their plants. In the last decade, cannabis cultivation has become a science, with chemical nutrients and artificial lighting fixtures accelerating a plant’s life span to produce bigger and more abundant flowers and buds.
Founder of Colorado’s Honest Marijuana, Anthony Franciosi, grows his cannabis with freeze-dried coconut water, aloe vera, and an aerated tea made of earthworm casting.
“If you care enough to buy organic spinach, you should care enough to buy organic pot,” he says, “And more so, because people are lighting this stuff on fire and inhaling it. For me, I don’t know why anyone would accept anything else.”
What Do Patients Prefer About Vaporizing Organic Cannabis?
Even in trace amounts, it’s unclear whether or not plants grown with certain pesticides may be harmful. Patients often say that organically grown cannabis produces a clean vaping experience.
If you prefer inhaling your medical marijuana, you might breathe in the toxins from pesticides or artificial fertilizers when using non-organic cannabis, especially in concentrated form. While the cannabinoids become more powerful, so do any extra chemicals. Butane hash oil (BHO) is one popular method of extracting cannabis into a concentrate. If you vape BHO that still contains butane residue, you inhale the chemical directly. BHO itself is considered to be safe in very small amounts, but in the process, trace chemicals are also used to thin the butane out. In its natural liquid form, butane is too viscous and is “thinned out” by harsh carcinogens such as neopentane and hexane.
Another significant concern of inhaling BHO wax relates to the marijuana plant’s waxy outer layer or cuticle. When burned or combusted normally, the wax layer in weed is burned away and is not an issue. Vaping, however, does not produce a high enough temperature to get rid of the cuticle. The wax accumulates in the user’s lungs and forms granulomas, which are insoluble lipid fragments. If vaporizing BHO, you need to generate a high enough temperature to burn away the cuticle fragments in the BHO wax.
Because of BHO’s dubious status, more craft cannabis companies are opting for solventless extraction to produce concentrates.
Tips for Selecting Organic Cannabis at the Dispensary
It may not be apparent when taking cannabis medicine, but super chemicals and specialized plant foods carry some chemicals and toxins. So how can you avoid it?
Check for Testing: All medical marijuana grown in Ohio goes through strict lab testing that checks chemical content. While it likely won’t be included with your product, you can request to view this information from the dispensary or cultivator.
Look for a Cannabis Industry Certification: The FDA hasn’t created standards for cannabis, but the industry has developed certain certifications for cultivators based on their practices. Organizations like Clean Green, Global Culture, Certified Kind or the Cannabis Certification Council can help you identify if your product was produced by an organic cannabis cultivator. Many of these organizations also utilize a bevvy of other sustainable practices such as:
- Recycling and using renewable resources whenever possible
- Weeding instead of spraying
- Using organic nutrients that come from compost, mulch and manure
- Rotating crops to protect soil nutrients
- Growing “companion plants” that keep pests away
One Ohio cultivator that is Certified Kind is Galenas. Read more about their organic growing practices here.
Consider switching to another form of administration: According to a 2014 Cannabis Safety Institute survey, smoking cannabis can create pyrolysis compounds with unknown toxicities, and inhaled chemicals enter the bloodstream without first undergoing first-pass metabolism by the digestive and hepatic systems. As a result, inhaled chemicals are typically present at much higher levels in the body than those that are orally ingested. Therefore, you might consider whether switching to edibles or tinctures might help you ingest less toxic compounds.
According to Honest Marijuana Co., when you force feed the plants with soils filled with harmful toxins, it’s never good for the overall taste of the finished product. When you let your marijuana grow naturally, it will grow the way that it is naturally inclined to grow the same way it’s been growing for thousands of years.
Want to learn more about your options to obtain a legal medical cannabis card in your state? Reach out to us at medicateOH@gmail.com.
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Medicate OH’s Founder and Publisher is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio and holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public administration, both from Northern Kentucky University. She has more than 20 years of experience writing and editing professionally for the medical and wellness industries, including positions with The Journal of Pediatrics, Livestrong, The Cincinnati Enquirer, and Patient Pop.
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