If you're concerned about the chemicals that are added to your food, you're probably also going to take an interest in what your cannabis has been treated with. How much do you really know about your cannabis when you purchase it?
It's one thing to have the name of the grower on the label of your weed, but what do you know about how it was grown? Was it grown organically, or with pesticides?
A major point to take into account is whether or not your cannabis was grown using PGRs (plant growth regulators).
What Are Plant Growth Regulators?
Plant growth regulators help to control the growth of plants. In cannabis, they're a cheap additive used to to increase the weight and density of buds, so the price can be inflated to deceive unsuspecting consumers.
PGRs benefit unscrupulous growers, but more worrying is the effect they can have on the health of consumers. There are confirmed links between adverse health effects and PGR use.
The Most Commonly Used PGRs
Many types of PGRs aid in the control of plant growth across many species. When it comes to cannabis cultivation, the three main types of PGRs in use are paclobutrazol, daminozide, and chlormequat chloride.
Paclobutrazol is a plant growth retardant that reduces the ability of the cannabis plant to synthesize terpenes
. It also reduces the ability of the plant to produce THC
. But what’s of most interest to the growers who use it is that paclobutrazol hinders the ability of cells to elongate, resulting in cells that pack tightly for increased bud density and weight.
When buds which contain paclobutrazol are smoked, it breaks down into nitrosamines — the most carcinogenic compound found in cigarettes.
Daminozide was banned in consumable plants in the U.S. in 1999, when researchers showed that it's a carcinogen. The chemical maximizes bud yield by slowing the growth of leaves and stems. Consumers should NOT smoke or ingest it.
Chlormequat chloride helps produce thicker stems and shorter plants, and slows down plant growth to encourage flowering. The resulting shorter bushier plants are much more adept for indoor growing. Although there's no evidence that chlormequat chloride is carcinogenic, it's suspected to be harmful in large doses.
How To Tell If Weed Was Treated With PGRs
Thankfully it’s quite easy, even for the uninitiated, to spot weed that's been treated with PGRs. One giveaway is rock-hard buds. If unattractive brown hairs cover the bud surface and the buds emit little to no scent, that's another sign that you've got PGR weed.
Buds that have been treated with PGRs often feel spongey, because the increased density of PGR weed means that the curing process doesn’t work as it should. PGRs buds can be spongey and brown, with little to no scent, and poor smokability.
One final notable characteristic of PGR weed is the lack of trichomes — the crystal-like resin glands that coat leaves and buds, where much of the medicinal benefits of the plant exist. Without trichomes, the effects of the weed are negligible.
If someone attempts to sell you cannabis that a grower has clearly treated with PGRs, turn them down. It's better to go without weed than consuming a subpar product that could make you sick.