Legal Cannabis Does Not Always Mean Safe Cannabis

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An article in The Wall Street Journal offered an overview of some of the causes and impacts of contaminated cannabis.

On February 21, 2024, The Wall Street Journal highlighted the ongoing issue of contamination in cannabis products, even ones available in a legal market (1). The article, “For Marijuana Users, Even Legalization Doesn’t Guarantee Safety,” featured firsthand accounts of users’ reactions to cannabis reportedly contaminated with pesticides, heavy metals, or molds (1). It also referenced recent studies and reports on cannabis testing regulations (1).

The article delved into the health risks of exposure to heavy metals that can be present in cannabis, recent recalls of contaminated products, and current regulations and testing requirements or lack thereof (1). The article noted that in 2023, poison control centers in the US received more than double the number of calls related to substances containing cannabinoids compared to the number of calls in 2019 (1). Earlier this month, testing requirements and cannabinoids was discussed in-depth in a GMP Collective webinar, “Intoxicating Hemp and Synthetic Cannabinoids: Insights into Lab Testing,” which offered insights and analysis of the risks and regulations around certain cannabinoids (2).


Also explained in the article was the risk posed by exposure to molds, especially for consumers who are immunocompromised or have certain health conditions (1). Steph Sherer, founder of Americans for Save Access, shared her personal experience with reporting a contaminated cannabis product and her call for more protections for consumers (1). Last year, Americans for Safe Access, an organization promoting safe access to medical cannabis, hosted a webinar discussing their report, “Regulating Patient Health: An Analysis of Disparities in State Cannabis Testing Programs,” which detailed the various ways the health of medical cannabis patients is affected by a lack of rigorous testing regulations (3).

“There are a lot of state by state discrepancies,” stated Maxwell Leung, an assistant professor at Arizona State University, at the close of the article (1). “No one should be exposed to harmful levels of pesticide and contaminants in cannabis.”

The article’s comment section, set to close four days after publication of the article, had collected over 500 comments within the first day of publication (1).


  1. Armour, S. For Marijuana Users, Even Legalization Doesn’t Guarantee Safety. The Wall Street Journal. 2024.
  2. McEvoy, E. Safeguarding consumers in the era of intoxicating hemp and synthetic cannabinoids: a GMP collective webinar (accessed Feb 21, 2024).
  3. McEvoy, E. How testing inconsistencies affect medical cannabis patients: A webinar on a special report from Americans for safe access (accessed Feb 21, 2024).