Rolling Papers May Not Be as Safe as We Think

Lori Ann Reese

Posted by Lori Ann Reese on 09/04/2020 in News

Rolling Papers May Not Be as Safe as We Think marijuana doctors

Do you buy bleached or flavored rolling papers? If you do, you may want to check out the findings of this new research study. California based SC Laboratories Inc. just completed testing on 118 rolling paper brands and products and found at least one heavy metal in 90% of the papers. 

The heavy metal concentrations found in the study were above the allowable health limits in 8% of the rolling papers tested.  The most common heavy metal detected in the papers was lead.  And pesticides were detected in 16% of the products.  Five percent of the rolling papers had pesticide residue limits above the allowable safe limit.

California SC Laboratories reported that 11% of the 118 rolling papers analyzed “would fail above the action limits for inhalable products” by consumer safety standards in the state.  

Are Cones Any Safer Than Papers for Smoking Weed?

The research team tested 70 rolling papers, 25 pre-rolled cones, 20 wraps, and three cellulose papers in the study. In each product category, one type exceeded the California action limits for heavy metals. That means they were determined to be unsafe for human consumption and ordered to be removed from the shelves. 

Many people believe that cellulose papers are a healthy alternative.  This type of rolling paper is typically sold in a small rectangular package.  Cellulose papers are also more likely to come in different flavors. The flavor additives to the cellulose rolling papers may be where the harmful chemical compounds occur.  All three of the cellulose papers tested by SC Laboratories exceeded action limits per state of California consumer safety laws.

Cones are a popular choice.  The talent that it takes to roll a good joint. Not everyone has the patience to hand roll.  It is challenging for some people.  Cones make it easier to pack your joint and come in a variety of sizes.  Dispensaries in pre-rolled marijuana products typically use medium-sized cones.   They are easy to fill for commercial production and packaging.

Twenty of the marijuana cone products also exceeded the California consumer safe limits for pesticides and heavy metals.  And four (4) out of the nineteen (19) wraps tested (21%) were above state limits as well.

What Papers and Cones Failed the Safety Tests for Pesticides and Lead Content?

The next question is an obvious one. Which rolling papers failed to meet the safety standards in the SC Lab’s test?   The papers were purchased at dispensaries around the Santa Cruz California area in July of 2020, and from Amazon.

The full report on findings of contaminated rolling papers and cones appear in the report.  You can review the SC LaboratoriesRolling Papers Tested for Heavy Metals and Pesticides” to see six of the products that were determined to be unsafe (and will be pulled from the market in California).  However, the report does not indicate the other brands tested above the safety standards, but not above the “action limits” in California.

  Blueberry Zig-Zag Cigar Cones

  • Cadmium 0.56 μg/g  Action limit: 0.5 μg/g
  • Arsenic 5.4 μg/g Action limit: 1.5 μg/g

Smokeclear Cellulose Papers King Size

  • Lead 55.1 μg/g Action limit: 0.5 μg/g

aLeda Cellulose Rolling Papers King Size

  •  Lead 60.3 μg/g Action limit: 0.5 μg/g

Rolling Papers May Not Be as Safe as We Think marijuana doctors

     Twisted Hemp Wraps Tropical Breeze

  •    Arsenic 3.2 μg/g Action limit: 1.5 μg/g


Rolling Papers May Not Be as Safe as We Think marijuana doctors

 HubbaBubba High Hemp Wraps

  • Cypermethrin 7.1 μg/g Action limit: 1 μg/g

King Palm Berry Terps

  • Cypermethrin 7.1 μg/g Action limit: 1 μg/g

Rolling Papers for Cannabis Not Tested for Safety Standards

What is misleading for consumers is the claim on the packaging for many of the identified brands as “organic.”  As a cannabis smoker, you want to choose healthier papers.  And the term organic provides false reassurance that the rolling papers are non-toxic.

If you purchase pre-rolled marijuana from your local dispensary, you may want to ask what kind of paper they are using.  Large dispensaries have studied different cone products before deciding on the paper to use for their pre-rolls.  They would be unlikely to use a harmful paper that hasn’t been safety tested.   However, smaller independent dispensaries may not have the same quality control processes in place.  Ask before you buy it.

Medical cannabis and recreational weed in some states has only been legalized for 2-3 years or less.  Consumers may be surprised to learn that marijuana rolling papers are not regulated or safety-checked by state authorities.  Rolling paper recalls do not even show up on the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission website for recalls or warnings.  The Federal Government considers cannabis an illegal substance, and papers and accessories are ignored for that reason.

This newly released study from SC Laboratories in California may result in recalls in the state but may not result in other states’ actions.  The onus is on cannabis users to do the research and find rolling papers that are truly organic and free of harmful heavy metals, pesticides, and other additives.   And that may include avoiding rolling papers that are flavored.

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