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E. coli, Salmonella, or Lead Found in 40% of Illegal New York Weed

New York City officials sent researchers to test the products of illegal dispensaries and pop-up shops selling marijuana on the streets. If it’s safe, clean flower that you want—the findings were dismal at best.

A report by New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association, published November 30, found that 40% of illicit cannabis products in New York City contained harmful contaminants such as E. coli and salmonella. These cannabis products were not only obtained from just 20 illegal sources, but also spanned across five boroughs.

E.coli, salmonella and other contaminants found in weed can pose serious risks to your health and must be managed according to state regulations. E.coli bacteria, which is a common contaminant in marijuana smoke, can easily enter the lungs and cause serious damage.

“E. Coli, Heavy Metals, Copyright Infringement, and 100 Percent Failure Rate – A Look at New York City’s Illicit Cannabis Market,” was released by the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association (NYMCIA) in partnership with the New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association (NJCTA) and the Connecticut Medical Cannabis Council (CMCC). 

These are the Key Findings

This report contains the third-party laboratory testing results for cannabis products bought from more than 20 licensed dispensaries across five boroughs. Researchers discovered that various products were contaminated with E.coli, salmonella and pesticides. Around 40% failed to pass at least one standard test for legal cannabis products available only at authorized medical marijuana dispensaries. 

The report “illuminates the danger posed by pop-up illicit operators that have circumvented New York’s regulations” which creates hazards for public health. 

THC concentrations can be up to twice what is advertised. Over half of the locations in which products were purchased didn’t ask for identification.

“The report’s findings are deeply troubling and highlight the tremendous risks posed by unscrupulous firms operating above the law,” said NYMCIA President Ngiste Abebe. “New York has a responsibility to not only protect the health and safety of its residents but also to fulfill the promise of a socially equitable adult-use market. Neither goal can be realized without stricter enforcement against bad actors.”

Bloomberg reports that over 30 licenses for legal businesses were granted on November 21, but in most cases, it’s open season for illegal cannabis businesses.

New York Communities Impact

Also, the consequences of this on disadvantaged communities were discussed. “I want everyone to understand that these smoke shops and delis are not legacy operators—they’re opportunists that are retraumatizing our community and stopping our ability to build wealth. These smoke shops are poisoning the Black and Brown communities. You cannot build wealth without health and these smoke shop owners are destroying the reputation of New York’s cannabis with their chemicals. They need to be stopped,” said Juancarlos Huntt, CAURD license applicant and legacy operator and co-founder New York for Social and Economic Equity.

Others placed the blame on a failing medical cannabis program, which “pushed” New Yorkers into the unknowns of the illicit market.

”Faced with an eroding medical cannabis program, New York patients have been pushed into this newly rampant illicit market, exposing them to E. coli, salmonella, and other dangerous toxins from untested products,” said Don Williams, Vice President of Government Relations at Curaleaf. “They deserve better, and New York must prioritize creating a safe and thriving cannabis program for them and adult-use consumers.”

You can find the complete report here.