Tainted Marijuana Leads to Lead Toxicity

Lead and Pot Don’t MixWe at TinySci don’t condone drug use, and with this finding to be reported in tomorrow’s New England Journal of Medicine, there’s another good reason to be wary. Doctors in Leipzig, Germany were alarmed by a recent dramatic jump in lead poisoning amongst its residents. After decades of seeing no such cases, 29 appeared during a 3-4 month period within four hospitals in the area.

Clinicians were able to put two and two together after noticing a trend amongst these patients: they were young unemployed smokers with body piercings.

Oh yes, and they all smoked pot.

Once authorities were alerted, a bag was provided by a patient (above) which shows pot intermixed with lead. Pure, elemental lead. Evidently, it was used to help weigh down the pot, to make it appear the buyers were getting more for their buck. What they got instead was a trip to the hospital.

The good news is that with extensive treatment, it appears that many of the patients are on the road to recovery. The bad news is, despite the obvious presence of lead granules as per the picture provided, in reality it’s likely that nearly invisible lead particles adhering to the pot was smoked at temperatures reaching 1200° C, yielding a very effective means for its absorption into the lungs.

Perhaps if you’re going to do it, get a good metal detector. Or better, a mass spectrometer. Or, wait, think twice, and get a darn good beer instead (please drink responsibly…and legally).

Source: New England Journal of Medicine

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