Increased Oversight of the Cannabinoid Industry Reduces the Risk to Public Health and Public Safety.
Since 2012, marijuana has become legal for adult consumption in 16 states and the territory of Washington D.C. Medical marijuana is legal in 36 states at the time that this summary was written. There are currently three other states that have either voted or passed laws that have not gone into effect concerning marijuana consumption. On a nationalized level in North America, Canada legalized marijuana federally in 2018. Despite the widespread growth and attention that this market is getting, it’s uses, and safety is in need of further evaluation. As it stands the United States still recognizes marijuana as an illegal substance federally, and it is labeled as a Scheduled I drug by federal guidelines. As the political climate and public sentiment continue to evolve around this industry, the importance of safety and public health takes precedence.
Without a federalized program to ensure public safety and public health, states are left to fend for themselves. A study published out of the state of Washington, which legalized cannabis use in 1998, showed that out of 26 samples, 22 tested positively for pesticides (84.6%). Many showed multiple contaminants. The author of this piece stated that “these products a present a clear and present danger” and “future regulation and monitoring with allowance for organic certification and employment of integrated pest management techniques without synthetic pesticides are required approaches to rectify this looming public health threat”. (1)
Today CBD and cannabis-based treatments are being used to treat a number of medical conditions from seizures to nausea associated with cancer treatments. It is the function of government and the responsibility of the industry to create a regulatory framework that serves the best interest of the public. Regardless of if you consider or use CBD as a medicine or natural food supplement, public health and safety should serve as the foundation for the continual growth of this industry.
Some of the biggest concerns within this industry are centered around contamination as well as mislabeling of products with regards to the cannabinoid content. There are different levels of CBD and THC in each state legalization policy which must be adhered to. The mislabeling could also lead to side effects if the ratio of THC to CBD is disproportionally high. Accurate means to testing these products would ensure industry standards and make sure there is transparency and accuracy in what the public are being exposed to. Contaminants are another big issue. The “synthetic weed” market raised a lot of red flags about this issue following a number of deaths and illnesses after people were exposed to synthetic weed which was contaminated. Contaminants in cannabis-based products could include pesticides, metals, synthetic cannabinoids, molds and bacteria among other things.
Over the past several years, there has been increased interest in the cannabinoid industry by the general public and pharmaceutical industry. As states expand policies toward legalizing medicinal and recreational cannabis, the need for a more robust regulatory oversite effort is needed. We must ensure that public health and safety are taken into account as we expand the research and development into cannabinoid-based therapies. Public health is negatively affected by things such as contaminants and the mislabeling of products. Government agencies must sure up their efforts to track, trace and certify products from the soil, seed, plant and all the way to human consumption to ensure that the public are not being placed under undue harm. Tracking and tracing will also allow us to stop shipment or production of a product if a large-scale problem such as contamination becomes an issue. It the function for government to protect the citizens and the responsibility of the industry to make sure that cannabinoid based products are safe for consumption and that industry oversight is done in such a way that we can ensure public health and public safety.
1 “Pesticide Contamination of Cannabis in the Legal Market”, Ethan Russo, Medical Director PHYTECS
2 “The Trouble with CBD Oil”, Arno Hazekemp; Med Cannabis Cannabinoids 2018;65-72
3 “Current Therapeutic Cannabis Controversies and Clinical Trial Design Issues”, Ethan Russo; Frontiers in Pharmacology Sept 2016