Guide to Testing Your Drugs for Contamination or Purity


Posted by veriheal on 03/13/2024 in Consumption

guide to testing your drugs for contamination or purity

Unfortunately, not all cannabis users have access to safe products regulated by a legal market. This article provides some helpful information about harmful substances that may be found in cannabis products and ways to tell if your product may be unsafe. We will explore the dangers of potentially laced cannabis products, and we will provide some examples of observable indicators that your product may be corrupted. Yet, despite the tips given in this article, ultimately the advisable and ideal way to ensure a product’s safety is to purchase from a licensed, legal dispensary that supplies laboratory testing information, such as a Certificate of Analysis (COA).

What is in Laced Cannabis?

Laced cannabis products typically come in the form of cannabis flower that has been combined with other unwanted drugs or additives. These substances often come into the mix when dealers want to make the most profit off low-quality products. Adding other drugs can make a weak product seem more potent, and using additives like laundry detergent or crushed glass can enhance the appearance of low-quality buds. There are even some dealers who intentionally combine stronger, more addictive drugs with cannabis flower to increase buyers’ level of addiction to a dealer’s products, ensuring that users continue to return and pay for more. 

Here are some additives that you can easily detect in your cannabis flower:

  • Crushed glass: Bits of glass are sometimes added to replicate the appearance of trichomes on cannabis flower. Plus, mixing the flower with glass increases the product’s weight, and therefore, its price. You can observe whether your flower is laced with glass by rubbing the buds against a CD. Cannabis laced with glass will leave scratches behind, whereas regular cannabis will not.
  • Laundry detergent: Mixing cannabis flower with laundry detergent can improve the appearance and smell of low-quality products, as well as increase the product’s weight. Thankfully, it’s also easy to check for the presence of laundry detergent in your buds. Add a few buds to a glass of clean water and shake them around gently. If the product is laced, there will be traces of suds.
  • Fuel additives: Numerous smell additives are used to enhance the scent of cannabis products, even diesel fuel. These sorts of additives are easy to detect because of how they react to fire. Hold a sample of the cannabis flowers to a flame if you suspect the presence of smell adulterants. Buds soaked in fuel will burst into flames immediately, and buds mixed with various perfumes will change the color of the flames, and may even create sparks.

However, it is more difficult to detect unwanted drugs in your cannabis product. Other drugs that can be found in laced cannabis include cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ketamine, and maybe fentanyl (more on this later). The most reliable way to know if any of these drugs are present in your product is by obtaining a drug residue test kit. Unfortunately, these are not cheap or easy to just pick up at a store. 

As general advice for avoiding unwanted drugs in your purchases, it is best to have a general familiarity with what uncorrupted, “good” flowers look like, smell like, and taste like. This way, you can examine cannabis buds with a better sense of when something is off. Having this sort of general knowledge will give you the ability to determine whether the buds are too wet or powdery, if they smell weird or like chemicals, and if they taste particularly bitter or harsh. 

Also, you can check your buds for suspicious substances by rolling and squeezing a small piece around with your fingers. The frost of whitish resinous hairs covering the cannabis buds, called trichomes, should mostly stick to your fingers without falling off. But, if there is something else in your flower, a heap of powder or dust will come out when you roll or crush up some of the buds by hand. 

Another good practice for avoiding laced products is to never buy pre-ground cannabis flower. Pre-ground products are easier to manipulate with sneaky additives. Ground flowers are more difficult to examine for purity, and other substances can be more easily hidden among the grounds to create the appearance of there being more product. Whole buds, on the other hand, are easier to check for contamination. 

Is Fentanyl a Concern for Cannabis Consumers?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid about 100 times stronger than morphine and about 50 times stronger than heroin. It is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as a pain reliever and as an anesthetic. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is prescribed by doctors to treat severe pain associated with surgery or advanced-stage cancer. Because of the drug’s potency, even small doses can be fatal. 

Fentanyl, particularly illegally manufactured fentanyl, is currently the primary driver for rising overdose trends in the United States, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics. Alarmingly, many overdoses involving fentanyl appear to be unintentional and result from the presence of illegally made fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (such as carfentanil) in laced counterfeit pills, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. 

What about the cannabis supply? There have been stories of so-called “fentanyl-laced weed,” but these sensational claims have been largely fallacious. In fact, as of October 2023, according to the New York State Office of Addiction Services, “fentanyl is not being added to the cannabis supply.” Police reports asserting the presence of fentanyl in samples of illegal cannabis were shown to be the result of post-confiscation cross-contamination or over-sensitive tests that were flagging clinically insignificant residues of the drug. Furthermore, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has not detected fentanyl in any of its seized cannabis products. So, overall, although there is no significant evidence that fentanyl is currently a danger in the cannabis market, be aware that the unregulated market nevertheless comes with risk in the current evolving landscape of the illicit market. 

Prevent Laced Cannabis—Advocate for Legalization!

To summarize, navigating the complexities of cannabis in unregulated markets demands a cautious approach. Prioritizing one’s safety requires both increasing your familiarity with the characteristics of quality cannabis products as well as establishing trust in a dealer. By taking the time to know a cannabis product’s source, users can better safeguard themselves against potential harm. Nevertheless, while therapeutic users in some regions may find themselves with limited legal options, it unfortunately remains essential to acknowledge the potential risks associated with the unregulated market. To improve the market for people whose access to cannabis remains risky, we must continue to advocate for comprehensive legalization and regulation that will help ensure safety and fairness for all members of the cannabis community.

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