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Thursday, April 10, 2008

That’s Some Heavy Shit

posted by on April 10 at 12:13 PM

A report today in the New England Journal of Medicine says that 29 people who sought medical attention in Germany were suffereing from lead poisoning. The source? Their stash.

Here’s yet another reason to “just say no” to drugs: Smoking marijuana could lead to lead poisoning. Doctors in Germany have linked a mysterious outbreak of lead intoxication to contaminated street supplies of marijuana.

In a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, Franziska Busse, M.D., of the University Hospital Leipzig and colleagues detail a puzzling occurrence of lead poisoning symptoms over a 3- to 4-month period among patients aged 16 to 33 years old. Twenty-nine patients at four different hospitals had abdominal cramps, nausea, fatigue, and anemia - classic signs and symptoms of lead intoxication.

Wheelchair weed, indeed. But despite the sensational lede – another reason to “just say no” to drugs – this doesn’t indicate a contamination crisis in the US. The only reason it’s news is because it’s an anomaly. In fact, docs say there are no known cases of lead-contaminated pot in the U.S. If we would regulate the marijuana market, of course, contamination like this wouldn’t be a risk. In their report (.pdf), researches concluded the asshole dealers did it to turn a quick, um, Euro.

The current working hypothesis of the police is that because of its high specific gravity and inconspicuous grayish color, lead was used to increase the weight of street marijuana sold by the gram and thereby maximize profits among dealers…. Lead particles smoked in a joint, which can have a core temperature of 1200°C,2 are very effectively absorbed in the respiratory tract.

Those dealers should go to jail for poisoning people. Seriously. And, marijuana smokers, should you happen come across pot mixed with chunks that look like this…


…don’t smoke it. Obviously.

RSS icon Comments



Posted by Mr. Poe | April 10, 2008 12:16 PM

my first thought was that it was grown in lead-contaminated soil. plants will take up lead instead of iron AS IF it were iron (something the plant needs in small amounts). but this is some evil shit, here.

fyi, if you're lead poisoned, start taking safe doses of iron, which will gradually replace the lead in your system. now that i think of it, it's a good side effect of the drug being illegal that people are forced to grow it in indoors in clean media or out in remote countryside--lead contamination is largely an urban soil problem.

Posted by ellarosa | April 10, 2008 12:23 PM

Correction: No known cases of this in the US yet. I'll bet you $10 that some nitwit out there sees this story and says "Wow, man, what a great idea."

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | April 10, 2008 12:24 PM

@2) The researchers considered that the plant may have been contaminated through the soi, but concluded it was added to the package.

We recovered either half-used packages or aliquots of “home supplies” of marijuana from three patients, and we identified elemental lead by means of atomic absorptiometry and Δ 9-tetrahydrocan of atomic absorptiometry and Δ 9-tetrahydrocantography. One package contained obvious lead particles (Fig. 1); this strongly indicated that the lead was deliberately added to the package rather than inadvertently incorporated into the marijuana plants from contaminated soil.
Posted by Dominic Holden | April 10, 2008 12:30 PM

It would be cool if weed was regulated so this wouldn't happen.

Posted by poppy | April 10, 2008 12:32 PM

Not just weed - adulteration is a major problem with all illegal drugs.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | April 10, 2008 12:39 PM

this is classic, just like the anecdotes about unintended consequences involving glass manufacture.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | April 10, 2008 12:40 PM

Buy buds not shake.

Posted by the bloop | April 10, 2008 12:46 PM

thank god i dont smoke pot
just alcholl,cigeretes,speed and black-tar heroin thank you vey much

Posted by linus | April 10, 2008 12:47 PM

Another reason you probably won't see local dealers suddenly spiking their wares like this, is that frankly, weed is so ubiquitous around here, what would be the point? It's not like they need to "put their thumb on the scale" like the old-time butcher, because the product is so scarce they need to squeeze a little extra margin out of it.

Plus, most people locally probably buy from someone they already know, and most end-of-the-chain dealers aren't about to piss off or POISON their clientele/friends, just for the sake of eking out a little more cash on their transactions, which they're probably not doing as a major source of their income anyway.

Anonymous street dealers might try to pull a stunt like this, but who in their right mind would purchase weed from someone they didn't know anyway?

Posted by COMTE | April 10, 2008 12:56 PM


Some of us don't have any friends who can sell to us, and are very bad at making new friends. So I would be forced to buy from someone I don't know, just because I know no one.

Posted by Andrew | April 10, 2008 1:06 PM

It's not drug use that is the problem here. It's sloth. Clean your weed!

Posted by kinaidos | April 10, 2008 1:09 PM

I think they were trying to make the point that, being illegal street drugs have no regulatory structure to ensure purity. That's why I buy chinese toys instead! The FDA makes sure only the finest GHB precursors make it into the paint.

Posted by dbell | April 10, 2008 1:12 PM

oh wait...that's right, we can't even accidentally drug our children without giving them lead poisoning too...

Posted by dbell | April 10, 2008 1:16 PM

#11 Ditto. I haven't had a friend with weed (or a connection) in almost two years.

Posted by elswinger | April 10, 2008 1:26 PM

elswinger, andrew
need one?
i promise not to poison you

Posted by linus | April 10, 2008 1:33 PM


I'd love it, but I think setting up that kind of deal on slog is probably illegal.

Posted by Andrew | April 10, 2008 1:47 PM


Uh, come to Slog Happy tonight.

Posted by Mr. Poe | April 10, 2008 2:01 PM

@17: Even better, if you live in different states, it's a federal crime.

Posted by Greg | April 10, 2008 2:47 PM

That BBC reporter who went to Amsterdam and smoked a huge jay of wheelchair weed everyday despite having paranoid hallucinations and a near psychotic breakdown would probably be dead by now. Idiot.

Posted by Time Bomb | April 10, 2008 5:23 PM

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