If you are a frequent user of cannabis, there is something important you should know about your weed. Many consumers are not aware of it, but growers and producers surely are, and you may be shocked to know what they are doing to your weed, and potentially your health.
The cannabis industry has only taken off in the last few years with many new companies joining the landscape of growers and producers of marijuana. Many of these companies care more about making profits than the end users’ health. This is scary considering that the cannabis industry goes relatively unmonitored, compared to other industries like food and medicine who are strictly regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).
What is it that we are talking about? Something called PGRs, or Plant Growth Regulators. Essentially these are the chemicals that produce what we know as Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs. Some of which have been found to be harmful to humans in large consumption, and have even been banned by the FDA for use on food crops (more on this later).
Its quite easy to identify PGR weed once you know what to look for upon examination. The most important physical characteristic to watch out for is cannabis being too dense. If the buds are too big and rock hard, chances are this cannabis has been pumped with plant growth regulators.
As stated above, PGRs are Plant Growth Regulators that are used to manipulate a plants growth, when it produces fruit, and even how much fruit is produced and how the fruit comes out looking like. There are two types of PGRs; natural PGRs and synthetic PGRs, which can be administered by spraying them on the plants or by adding them to the plants’ fertilizer. Natural PGRs include kelp and trichontanol. These natural PGRs can be healthy as they are naturally occurring. But, the other type, synthetic PGRs can be detrimental to your health. Some of the most popular synthetic PGRs include Daminozide (aka Alar), Paclobutrazol, Chlormequat Chloride, and Uniconazole.
PGRs are used for a number of reasons to manipulate a plant’s natural growth process. They can be used to do anything from speeding up the growth of a plant, to controlling how big a plant grows. And most importantly for the cannabis industry, what the fruits of the plants come out like.
Firstly, PGRs are used by indoor growers to ensure that plants grow uniformly and that they do not grow too tall or too wide and take up valuable space for other plants. Some growers say that PGRs lead to healthier plants and create more disease resistant plants. But most importantly to the consumers of cannabis, PGRs are used to manipulate how much bud each plant produces, and what the buds look like, as well as how much buds weigh. Not to mention that theses PGRs affect the potency of buds as well. More on this in a minute.
So why would growers want to change the appearance of the beautiful buds of marijuana? Because they know what consumers want their bud to look like, and that naturally, most bud does not fit into that criteria. The standard for a beautiful bud is tightly packed and dense, compared to a leafier, puffy looking bud.
Unfortunately, one of the downsides of PGRs is that they reduce the potency of buds. The psychoactive affects we get from weed come from terpenes and cannabinoids, which are found in the trichomes of the bud. What does the trichomes and PGRs have to do with each other? PGRs can have a major effect on trichomes and how they function. Effectively lowering the overall potency of the cannabinoids including THC and CBD, in other words, PGRs are making better looking weed that does not get you as high.
Even more important than the effects PGRs have on the look and potency of your weed, many of the popular synthetic PGRs used in the cannabis industry have been proven to be unhealthy to humans. It must be mentioned that while these PGRs are unhealthy to humans, that is only in large quantities. Unfortunately, if you are a frequent cannabis user, years of exposure could lead to health complications.
Some of the most popular synthetic PGRs used today in the cannabis industry have already been banned by the FDA for use in the cultivation of food crops. This is due to some of the PGRs that we are about to discuss being found to be carcinogenic. You read that right, some of the PGRs used in the weed you smoke have been proven causes of cancer. There is no reason to panic just yet, let’s take a look at some of these popular PGRs and see what they are used for and what potential side effects they carry.
Daminozide is a popular synthetic PGR that is used by cannabis growers to help maximize a plants bud yield. This is accomplished by shortening a plant’s stems and leaf density. Unfortunately, the side effect of this is that the trichomes of the buds produced are less potent, and as mentioned above, can lead to less potency in terms of cannabinols, in other words, less THC and CBD in your bud. In 1989, the use of Daminozide was banned for from the use of human consumption. This ban was due to an EPA study which found that in large quantities Daminozide could be a carcinogen.
This synthetic PGR is used to stop the elongation of a plant’s cells. In relation to marijuana plants, this artificially creates the dense looking buds that were discussed earlier. Again, one of the side effects is that Paclobutrazol limits the growth of terpenes, which you guess it, limits the potency of cannabinols. Not to mention that Paclobutrazol has been found to outright limit a plant’s ability to produce THC. The EPA also has concerns about Paclobutrazol, but they have not banned its use. Their concerns are that Paclobutrazol causes liver damage, and could affect both men and women in regards to fertility.
Chlormequat Chloride is a popular synthetic PGR that is used by indoor growers. This PGR is popular because it can be used to slow the growth of a plant which in turn can lead to a shorter time for a plant to flower. Chlormequat Chloride is popular among indoor growers as they can use it to keep plants in a denser area and allow for them to fit more plants in one grow room. The good news about Chlormequat Chloride is that there are currently no known health risks associated with it. That by no means is a sponsorship for Chlormequat Chloride being a safe PGR, on the contrary, there are currently tests being conducted to test the effects it can have on human consumption.
Uniconazole is another PGR used to stunt the growth of plants. Similar to Chlormequat Chloride, Uniconazole is used to keep plants under control in indoor grow rooms and subsequently causes the buds to come out looking denser. Again, this contributes to the loss of terpenes and cannabinoids. Currently Uniconazole does not have any bans due to human health risks, but that does not necessarily mean it is good for humans to consume.
To start off, you should not panic about the effects that PGRs can have on humans. If you are experiencing any issues with your health talk to your healthcare provider. But what can you do to prevent any future health complications? You can start by talking to your budtenders about the products that they offer. Most budtenders have a good connection with the growers and distributers that they buy from, they should be able to answer any questions you have. If they are unable to provide you with the necessary information, they should know someone who does, or at the very least get in touch with the actual growers to see if they are using PGRs in their growing process and what PGRs they are using. Be sure to do more research on the different PGRs that are or may be used in the marijuana you buy. Also, remember that just because a bud looks nice does not mean that it is of high quality. PGRs are very deceptive and can lead consumers to an inferior product that looks good but is not of high quality, especially if you care about getting a product with good quality and amounts of terpenes and cannabinols.
In conclusion, the cannabis consumer community needs to take control of their health and future. Do not be tricked by buds that look really dense, often times this can be a sign of the use of PGRs. Learn about where your bud is coming from and what chemicals the growers are potentially using. Taking these simple steps can lead to a happier and healthier future, with chemical free weed and even more potent terpene and cannabinol rich bud. Until the federal government recognizes the cannabis industry legitimately, it is up to the community to regulate those who provide the goods we consume. Stay away from PGR marijuana, and based on the rules of economics, growers and producers will have to change their ways