Research shows regular marijuana users may have traces of metal in their system

Tone Davis said he consumes cannabis daily.

“I’m not consuming it to get, quote-unquote high. I’m doing it so I could be less nervous at networking events, I’m able to talk more to people,” said Davis.

For him, he believes marijuana is medicine. Now he even runs his own company making cannabis-infused honey at his company Natural Elevation LLC.

“Just tried to give people a healthy alternative in the cannabis space, because it’s more than just chocolate chip cookies, brownies and Rice Krispies to offer consumers,” said Davis.

Davis is one of millions who use marijuana nationwide. Recent polling shows roughly 16% of people nationwide reported smoking marijuana last year.

Now some research shows they may have been exposed to toxic metals. A recent study from Columbia University shows marijuana users had significant levels of lead and cadmium in their blood and urine.

Doctors say these metals can be linked to heart disease and other health concerns.

“It depends on how cannabis is grown, processed, and consumed,” said Tiffany Sanchez PhD, assistant professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia Public Health, and senior author.

Sanchez said cannabis plants can absorb metals from soil and water.

“If it’s processed, let’s say, into a in a vape and you consume it using a vape pen that could have a different set of contaminants compared to if you’re, you’re smoking it as a as a joint,” she said.

Once these metals are in your body, doctors say they can remain there for a long time.

Cannabis advocate, Caroline Phillips said this is concerning.

“Imagine being a cannabis patient and not knowing if the strain that you’re getting in Colorado has the same properties as the same name strain in California? How is your doctor able to help you ensure that you’re getting the best medication possible when you’re traveling for business, or for pleasure or maybe even for medical purposes,” said Phillips, founder of National Cannabis Festival and Policy Summit.

Marijuana remains illegal on the federal level, so there isn’t any guidance from the FDA or EPA.

Right now, research shows only 27 states along with Washington, D.C. regulate the concentrations of metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in marijuana products. Some of those states include Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington state.

“I think that the full De-scheduling of cannabis can help eliminate a lot of these dangers and the lack of regulation,” said Phillips. “Once we have nationwide regulation, we’ll be able to put together great systems for testing, as well as dispensing to adults across the United States who need to use cannabis for medicine, or choose to use it recreationally at home.”

In May, the Justice Department proposed a rule to reclassify the drug from Schedule one to Schedule three.

“It’s an important move toward reversing long-standing inequities,” said President Biden in a recorded video statement. “Far too many lives have been upended because of failed approach to marijuana and I’m committed to righting those wrongs.”

As for regular users like Davis, he said the studies don’t worry him because he knows how the cannabis he uses is grown.

“That’s critical to know your grower know this source of where it’s coming from, how is going into the soil, how it’s coming out of the soil,” said Davis. “Try to source locally as where the hemp is grown to where the cannabis is grown, who is the grower? So even if you do like the product, you can know the grower and where that source is.”

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