The laws are changing around the world regarding cannabis, giving more people safe alternatives such as dispensaries to purchase their weed. However, in areas of the world that still see consuming cannabis as an illegal activity, others are not so lucky. And if you live in these parts of the world and want to smoke weed, you’re sometimes at the mercy of a dealer.

Dealers, or those who sell weed for a living out of their living room rather than a pharmacy or dispensary, are human. And just like anybody else, they can be very fair or they can be dishonest, and try to make as much money as possible while parting with the least amount of weed. In most cases, these dealers fall into the former category. But when they become dishonest, it can lead to several dangers for the consumer.

There can be a number of different things in laced weed, some more harmful than others. When it does happen, these are the items weed is typically laced with:

  • Opium
  • Acid
  • Orange/lemon peel shavings
  • Air freshener
  • Pesticides, such as Raid
  • Crushed glass
  • Water
  • Fungus
  • Dried herbs, especially when the weed comes already ground or in a pre-rolled blunt
  • Glue on the inside of bags
  • Older weed
  • Male buds

What is adulterated cannabis?

Adulterated cannabis refers to marijuana that has had any kind of foreign substance added to it. The number of items added to contaminated cannabis can be many. But while the practice itself is not that common, it’s typically done to increase the high the user feels, to increase bag weight, or to cause a person to become addicted to the marijuana and come back for more.

Contaminated cannabis can have many different effects on those who consume it. In some cases, the added substances won’t produce any effect on the user, nor will they easily be able to tell that it’s laced weed that they’re smoking. In other, more severe instances, these substances can cause a lot of harm to the user, with the most tragic consequences resulting in death.

It’s important to note that at times, users will notice an ‘off’ taste in their weed, even when they’re getting different strains from the same person. This doesn’t always mean that the weed they’re smoking is laced. All growers will use fertilizer to feed their plants during the growth cycle. The plants should be flushed for about two weeks before they’re harvested and if this hasn’t been done, it can produce that ‘off’ taste users sometimes report.

While plants that haven’t been properly flushed aren’t the best buds to smoke because it will
affect the flavor, fertilizer residue is not considered a foreign substance and these types of buds are not considered to be contaminated weed.

Why would cannabis be laced?

hairspray coated marijuana bud

Of course, you want to think that anyone you’re dealing with is a kind, honest person, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. Sometimes the people selling weed do add these substances and it’s usually so that they can make more even more profit. The three biggest reasons people sell laced weed are:

  • To make it heavier. As any regular smoker knows, the biggest determining factor for the cost of marijuana is the amount, or weight, that’s sold. When people can add something else to that amount other than weed, they can make more money by actually selling less of the actual product. The most common items added to weed to make it heavier are: sand, crushed plant matter, male buds that don’t result in a good high, and dried herbs, such as oregano. One of the most common substances added to weed to make it heavier is water.
  • To get you hooked. When other drugs are used to lace or contaminate weed, it’s typically done to get the user hooked, and have them coming back to purchase more sooner, or more often than you normally would. This is especially true in the case of opioids. Recently, certain areas of North America have experienced problems with cannabis that’s been laced with fentanyl.
  • To make it look better.  Hairspray, sugar, crushed glass, and talcum powder are just a few of the substances added to weed to make it look better. And certain substances such as air freshener will make it smell better. Shattered glass and hairspray can make buds appear more resinous or have more of the THC-laden crystals on them.

How to tell if your cannabis has been contaminated

So, with all the dangers that can come with contaminated weed, how can you tell if you suspect yours has been? It’s difficult, but it can be done.

Visual indications

Those who go to the trouble of adulterating or contaminating their weed before selling it do so at a fairly high skilled level. Most of the times, a contaminate can’t be seen just by simply looking at the buds with the naked eye. For this reason, it’s best to be armed with a magnifying glass before approaching any suspicious bud.

To better see if weed is in fact, laced weed, there are a few other tricks can also be done. These include:

  • Rubbing the weed on a CD. Bud will never scratch the surface, but glass will.
  • Place a small piece of bud in water and swirl it around. If there’s detergent on the weed it will form suds. And if there are other powders, such as talcum powder, on the bud, it will make the water cloudy.
  • Hold a small piece of bud over a flame. If it’s been laced with gasoline, it will flare up (and you’ll be able to noticeably smell it). If the color of the herb changes, or it starts to crackle and pop, it’s likely laced with chemicals and should not be smoked.
  • Crack a bud open and simply look at it. If a purple marker or food coloring has been used, these will typically only absorb into the outer layers of the bud and won’t reach the dense center. The coloring will also be very uneven compared with bud that is naturally colored.
  • Tap the bud against a black surface and check to see if anything falls out of it like dust. Trichomes won’t come off this easily but other substances such as talcum powder will.

Tactile indications

Other than just looking at the buds, sometimes feeling it will let you know if you’ve gotten some contaminated weed as well. This is best done when the bud is slightly squeezed and rubbed between the fingers, or on the lips. If shattered glass or other rough or sharp substances are in there, you’ll be able to feel the grittiness of them in the weed. This is sometimes referred to as grit weed.

Also, never buy weed that’s already been ground up or comes in a pre-rolled joint or blunt. This makes it very easy for sellers to put whatever they want in the weed, making it nearly impossible to tell if anything else has been added to it.

Buying laced weed isn’t just a waste of money, the substances contained within it can be extremely harmful, making a strong case for a pure and legal market in areas of the world that don’t currently have it. Unfortunately, the best defense many users around the world have today is to simply know who they’re dealing with, and to never buy weed from strangers.