rolling paper contamination

Rolling Paper Contamination: A Comprehensive Look at Hidden Hazards for Smokers

by | Apr 26, 2024

rolling paper contamination

Written by Kristina Etter

Kristina is a digital content creator and designer. She has a talent for creating engaging and informative content that resonates with our professional audience. Kristina’s passion for the cannabis industry stems from her belief that it has the potential to revolutionize the world in many ways, and has a personal testimony of cannabis success.

In cannabis consumption, ensuring product safety is paramount. While much attention is rightfully directed towards the purity and potency of the flower itself, there exists a lesser-known realm of potential hazards lurking within the accessories we use to indulge in our favorite herb.

Considering that regulations force cannabis producers to test their products for contaminants, shouldn’t the same standards be in place for the paper you’re wrapping it in?

Have you ever wondered about rolling paper contamination? What potential hazards might be concealed within these seemingly innocuous accessories? Whether it’s the elegant allure of rose petal cones, the exotic nature of palm leaves, or the timeless appeal of traditional papers, do you really know what you’re inhaling?

I contacted Harrison Bard, CEO of Custom Cones USA and DaySavers, to discuss the potential hazards that may be flying below the radar, the risk of rolling paper contamination, and why cannabis producers and consumers alike should demand more transparency.

Unconventional Materials in Rolling Papers

Innovation often takes center stage in cannabis. The market continually seeks novel ways to entice consumers, from infused edibles to artisanal concentrates. One such trend that has captured attention recently is the use of rose petals, palm leaves, and other non-conventional materials in rolling papers.

At first glance, the idea of rolling up cannabis in delicate rose petals may seem romantic and whimsical, particularly around holidays like Valentine’s Day. Producers eager to stand out in a competitive market may see this as an opportunity to offer a unique product that appeals to aesthetics and sensory experiences alike.

However, beneath the surface lies a complex web of potential risks and regulatory challenges.

Potential Risks Associated with Non-Traditional Rolling Papers

The primary concern is that rose petals contribute to rolling paper contamination. Like many commercially grown flowers, roses are often treated with pesticides to ward off pests and ensure uniform growth. These pesticides and heavy metals present in the soil can be absorbed by the petals, posing a risk to consumers when smoked.

Harrison concurred by stating, “It’s incredibly hard to find roses that are grown without pesticides. At Custom Cones USA, we’ve done extensive sourcing and testing on rose petal cones and have yet to find an option that would meet cannabis testing standards.”

Moreover, the lack of regulatory oversight specifically targeting rolling papers exacerbates this issue. While cannabis itself undergoes rigorous testing in many markets, the same cannot be said for the materials used to roll it. This regulatory gap means that consumers may unknowingly expose themselves to harmful contaminants when using rose petal cones.

ROSE PETAL CONES, rolling paper contamination

Regulatory Challenges and Consumer Awareness

Navigating the regulatory landscape of cannabis products is already a daunting task for producers. The addition of unconventional materials like rose petals further complicates matters. Producers must ensure compliance with existing testing requirements and grapple with the unique challenges posed by natural materials prone to contamination.

“There are strict testing requirements in most cannabis markets, but those requirements don’t typically apply to rolling paper manufacturers. Rose petal cones aren’t tested for things like heavy metals, pesticides, and mold which pose a big risk to consumers,” Harrison added.

From a consumer perspective, awareness is vital. While the allure of rose petal cones may be strong, it is essential for individuals to understand the potential risks involved. Consumers may unwittingly expose themselves to harm without proper education and transparency from producers.

Although rose petal rolling papers may seem enchanting, it is crucial to approach them with caution. The allure of novelty must not overshadow concerns for consumer safety.

Findings from Previous Studies on Rolling Paper Contamination

As the cannabis industry matures, so too does our understanding of the potential risks associated with consumption methods. While much attention has been rightfully directed towards the purity of cannabis flower itself, recent revelations shed light on a concerning aspect often overlooked: the materials used for rolling papers.

In a study conducted by SC Labs, the prevalence of heavy metals and pesticides in rolling papers was brought to the forefront. The study aimed to assess the extent of contamination in traditional smoking papers, including rolling papers, blunt wraps, and cones, and its implications for consumer health.

Prevalence of Heavy Metals and Pesticides

The study’s findings were both alarming and illuminating. SC Labs tested 118 different products purchased from local retailers and online platforms. A staggering 90 percent of the papers tested positive for heavy metals, while 16 percent tested positive for pesticides. Notably, two products were found to contain chlorpyrifos, a banned pesticide with severe health risks.

Moreover, the study revealed significant variability in rolling paper contamination. While most standard papers showed relatively low levels of contamination, some products exhibited gross contamination, surpassing California action limits by multiple folds. Cellulose papers, in particular, raised concerns, with two of three tested products containing over 100 times the allowable limits of lead.

Harrison asserted, “The SC Labs discovery and recent recalls of pre-rolls is a crucial reminder of the importance of thoroughly testing every material in pre-rolled products. At both Custom Cones USA and DaySavers, all of our pre-rolled cones are tested above the highest standards in the industry for heavy metals, pesticides, and microbials.”

Image provided by DaySavers

Implications for Consumer Health and Industry Standards

The implications of these findings are profound, extending beyond mere product safety to broader considerations of consumer health and industry standards. Unlike ingested toxins, which undergo processing by the body’s natural detoxification mechanisms, inhaled toxins pose a more direct threat, bypassing these defenses and entering the bloodstream directly through the lungs.

As Joshua Wurzer, President and Co-Founder of SC Labs, highlighted in a previous article, cannabis growers and manufacturers of ancillary products, such as rolling papers, are responsible. Just as rolling paper contamination can compromise the integrity of a clean cannabis product, so too can other ingredients sourced without due diligence jeopardize the safety and reputation of cannabis manufacturers.

In essence, these findings underscore the need for heightened vigilance and scrutiny across the entire supply chain. Cannabis producers must prioritize the sourcing of safe and clean materials, ensuring that every component of their products meets rigorous quality standards. Only through such concerted efforts can the industry uphold its commitment to delivering safe, high-quality cannabis experiences for consumers, free from the specter of contamination.

Rolling Paper Contamination and Chromium

In any consumable product production, the devil often lies in the details. Such is the case with the saga of chromium contamination in rolling papers, a challenge that has sent shockwaves through the industry and highlighted the complexities of regulatory oversight.

“Chromium is a naturally occurring element. Elevated levels of Chromium have been found in the water around industrial areas. When you consider that 90% of a rolling paper is water, it is easy to see how it could show up in a lab test,” Harrison explained.

Testing Requirements to Reveal Rolling Paper Contmaination

States like Maryland, Missouri, and New York found themselves grappling with a unique conundrum. In an effort to ensure consumer safety, these states mandated comprehensive testing for all cannabis products, including pre-rolls. Unlike traditional testing protocols that focus solely on the cannabis itself, these states required testing of the entire product, encompassing not just the flower but also the paper and filter.

This shift in testing requirements unearthed a troubling trend: widespread chromium contamination in pre-rolls. Chromium, a heavy metal with known health risks, was traced back to the paper products used in pre-roll manufacturing. While most cannabis markets typically focus on testing for the “Big Four” heavy metals—arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury—the inclusion of chromium in testing protocols caught many producers off guard.

rolling paper contamination

Challenges Faced by Producers and Paper Manufacturers

The root of the issue lies in the regulatory disparity between cannabis producers and paper manufacturers. While cannabis producers adhere to stringent testing requirements, paper manufacturers operate under different compliance guidelines, leaving room for potential contamination. The water-intensive process of paper manufacturing, coupled with the prevalence of chromium in industrial areas, creates a perfect storm for contamination to occur.

Laws are constantly changing in the cannabis industry. Even if you are in an established cannabis market, you may still have to worry about Chromium. You need to stay current on your area’s laws and regulations. At Custom Cones USA, we do extensive research on restrictions in different markets so we can find other compliant products to offer our customers,” Harrison stated.

Compounding the challenge is the stringent threshold set by some states for chromium content in cannabis products. The impossibly low thresholds set for pass/fail criteria left producers scrambling for solutions, with many unable to find compliant paper options. This posed a significant obstacle for producers heavily invested in pre-roll production, threatening to disrupt a sizable portion of cannabis sales.

While some states, like New York, acted swiftly to revise guidelines and adopt more realistic thresholds, others, such as Maryland and Missouri, have yet to amend their laws, leaving producers in limbo.

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