I told you earlier this year the story of the German weed that had been found laced with lead particles to give it extra weight. A far more insidious contaminant has popped up over in Europe – tiny glass particles to add weight. They look like shiny resin glands and if you smoke them, well, you can probably figure out that glass + lungs = health problems. The UK’s National Health Service issued this warning:
The Department of Health has recently received information suggesting that batches of herbal and ‘skunk-type’ cannabis have been contaminated with microscopic glass-like beads (or possibly ground glass). Laboratory testing has since confirmed a number of cases from a number of different parts of the country, in which cannabis appears to contain microscopic particles of glass. We have no information on other types of cannabis such as resin.
Now we’re receiving emails warning of the same danger being found in the Northeastern United States:
Unfortunately this is not a hoax!!! There is someone putting ground up glass shards in the bud to make it weigh more. I’ve seen it first hand and have even viewed it through a microscope. BE CAREFUL OF WHAT YOU BUY AND KNOW WHERE IT’S COMING FROM!!!
After doing some research online, it seems this has been a recent epidemic in the UK. People have been going to the hospital coughing up blood and numerous other adverse health effects.
Contaminated Marijuana Characteristics
The first noticeable thing is the size of the bag, a 1/4 oz. looks like an 1/8, as the glass adds a lot of weight.
Secondly, after handling the bud there’s a sandy or gritty feeling on your fingers.
Besides that there’s almost no way to detect it by eye. Even held under a light and carefully inspected, the glass particles appear to be resin glands, they’re even the same color.
The best way to detect it is to put everything through a grinder. When opening there’s a strange puff cloud of glass dust that goes into the air. The glass will immediately sift through the screen as it is granular and dry, not sticky. When sifted the glass moves strangely, like sand in an hour glass.
The massive amount of glass in the photo was collected in only 2 grams of pot.
The contaminated pot turned up just this week in Wolfeboro, NH.
You know what you never hear of? A distillery spiking their alcohol with contaminants in order to make a higher profit. In a taxed and regulated alcohol market, there are inspections and quality control and strict penalties for violations. In the legal market, there isn’t enough risk-added profit to motivate sellers to break the rules.
But the more I think of it, the less I think dealers grinding up glass to pump up profits by adding weight makes sense. According to the Drug Czar’s 2008 Marijuana Sourcebook, 81% of the people who buy weed buy it from a friend or relative, and usually at a home, dorm, or apartment – your friend isn’t adding the glass, or he ain’t a friend. Your friend gets it from “a Guy”. Guy makes his living selling bulk weed to a few such friends – he can’t really risk blowing his distribution setup once his few dealers start getting complaints and losing business. And if one of these dealers finds out Guy is selling them jacked-up weed? Stoner, please! And if your big-time mover or cartel is adding glass, we’d see a whole lot more of it on the streets than we’ve seen so far.
So maybe a few anonymous dime-bag park deals might be the place to turn your $20 of weed into $40 by adding glass, but where are these street hustlers finding the time to grind up a bunch of glass into itty-bitty particles? And how many times are they getting away with it before some savvy cannabis consumer feels grit in the bag and kicks their ass?
Suppose for a moment, though, that you’re a renegade county sheriff or frustrated drug war bureaucrat, realizing you’re losing the public perception battle on marijuana, because nobody really sees that much harm in it. Maybe you believe marijuana smokers are just losers and animals anyway, and you’re just the guy to teach those dopers a lesson. Maybe when one of those potheads has a friend coughing up blood, that scare the young kids away from it, and you’ll have finally saved another parent’s child from the reefers! Maybe a pound or two disappears from an evidence locker and somehow makes it back onto the streets chock full o’ glass.
I’m just saying that this is another predictable harm of prohibition, not marijuana.