The Dangers of PGR Weed: What You Need to Know

Ashley Priest

Posted by Ashley Priest on 06/21/2023 in Consumption

Scientist holding synthesized cannabis

What is PGR Cannabis?

When it comes to cannabis cultivation, growers sometimes employ plant growth regulators (PGRs) to achieve higher yields and larger buds. PGRs are substances or mixtures that can alter the growth rate of plants and crops by affecting their natural behavior. However, it’s important to note that deviating from nature’s course can have consequences.

Cannabis growers face various challenges, and PGRs are often used to enhance the growth of their plants. These regulators primarily mimic or hinder the plant’s normal growth hormones during different stages of growth. They can influence the timing of fruit ripening and affect the size, shape, and characteristics of roots, stems, trichomes, and leaves. As consumers, it’s crucial to ask the right questions to ensure not only the best value but also to minimize potential health risks.

PGRs are commonly used in cannabis cultivation to improve plant health and resistance against fungi. However, this can come at a cost, impacting the flavor and visual appearance of the final product. Additionally, there are more serious risks associated with PGR cannabis, including organ damage, cancer, and fertility issues. Even minor health effects, such as skin or eye irritation, can occur.

It’s important to note that not all PGRs pose the same level of risk. While some are harmless, they can still lead to less safe cannabis. 

Is PGR Cannabis Safe for Medical Use?

In short, no, PGR weed should not be used for medical or therapeutic benefits. 

When it comes to PGR weed, the safety of consumption is a valid concern. It’s important to note that PGRs can be derived naturally or created synthetically. However, the unfortunate truth is that many growers prioritizing profit over well-being use PGRs to enhance their buds.

Fortunately, the risks associated with PGR cannabis are relatively well-known. In fact, numerous plant growth regulators are prohibited for most crops, including those within the cannabis industry. As a result, PGR use is more prevalent in the black market and is unsuitable for medical cannabis purposes.

Consumers should be particularly cautious about synthetic PGRs. These substances can have detrimental effects on liver function, potentially leading to liver damage or even failure.

Synthetic Types: Understanding the Risks

When we encounter the term “synthetic,” it’s important to approach with caution. Synthetic means that something was created by humans using chemicals, compounds, or materials that imitate natural products for human consumption. We’ve learned that synthetic versions of products are often less effective and can come with unwanted side effects. Let’s take a look at some of the synthetic PGRs available on the market:

  • Paclobutrazol
  • Daminozide (also known as alar)
  • Chlormequat Chloride

Not surprisingly, these synthetic PGRs are harmful to the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently classified daminozide as a possible carcinogen. Residual PGRs in the soil and water can cause significant damage to fish and waterways. Moreover, when synthetic plant growth regulators are used, the biodiversity in the soil, which is typically enhanced during cannabis cultivation, is negatively affected.

Organic Types: A Safer Alternative

As mentioned earlier, not all PGRs are harmful, but unfortunately, most of the PGRs being used are synthetic, which is dangerous. Organic PGRs, on the other hand, are naturally present in our environment and pose no risk or problems when used. Although they may cost a bit more, using organic PGRs will benefit your plants and their consumers without the worries associated with synthetic PGRs. 

Some examples of natural PGRs include chitosan, triacontanol, and kelp.

The reason people are interested in PGRs is clear: bigger buds mean more profits. However, it often happens that people sacrifice safety and health in pursuit of greater financial gain. Before risking the consequences to your health, don’t hesitate to ask questions and inquire about how your product is grown.

If you choose to use an organic PGR, although it may involve additional costs, it can attract more customers while still providing natural growth benefits to your cannabis plants. It’s essential to consider whether the PGR being used is organic or synthetic, as synthetic PGRs are commonly used.

Identifying PGR Weed: Signs to Look For

While it’s impossible to visually identify PGR cannabis without proper chemical testing, there are a few indicators that can raise suspicions when evaluating products at dispensaries. Here are some tell-tale signs to look out for:

Thicker buds: Cannabis plants grown with PGRs tend to have tightly curled and super dense buds. These buds appear elongated and thicker than healthy, leafy buds. When touched, they feel rock hard and heavier compared to healthy nugs, typically with a spongy, less compact consistency.

Orange or brown appearance: PGR cannabis often displays a higher number of brown and red hairs than naturally-grown cannabis. Additionally, the trichomes on PGR weed tend to have a yellow-brown coloration. These characteristics contribute to the flower having a duller appearance, with shades of orange or brown.

Less aroma and flavor: PGR weed exhibits fewer trichomes compared to natural cannabis. Since trichomes are responsible for producing the plant’s terpenes, which contribute to its aroma, PGR weed generally has a weaker smell. In some cases, it may even have a chemical taste when consumed.

Lower cannabinoid content: PGR cannabis typically contains lower levels of cannabinoids, such as CBD and THC, compared to other cannabis products. The synthetic chemicals used as PGRs can disrupt the natural production of cannabinoids in the plant.

It’s important to note that these signs are not definitive proof of PGR use. To accurately determine the presence of PGRs, chemical testing is required. Consulting with knowledgeable dispensary staff or requesting detailed information about cultivation practices can also help you make more informed choices as a consumer.

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