Germany: Marijuana Smokers Were Poisoned With Lead in Leipzig
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By DENISE GRADY
Published: April 15, 2008
They had stomach cramps, nausea, anemia and fatigue, and some even had a telltale bluish line along their gums — classic signs of lead poisoning. But the cases, last year in Leipzig, Germany, puzzled doctors. Lead poisoning is rare in Germany, and yet here were 29 cases in just a few months. The doctors noticed a pattern: the patients were young, from 16 to 33; they were students or unemployed; and they had body piercings and a history of smoking.
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Lead Poisoning Due to Adulterated Marijuana (NEJM)
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In a letter published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine, the doctors wrote, "On questioning, all the patients eventually conceded that they were regular users of marijuana."
Three provided samples for testing. Sure enough, their marijuana was full of lead. One bag bought from a dealer even contained lead particles big enough to see, which meant the lead must have been added deliberately, rather than being absorbed into the plant from contaminated soil.
The core temperature of a joint can reach nearly 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, the doctors noted — more than hot enough to melt lead, which can be absorbed through the respiratory tract.
The poisoning was widely reported by German newspapers and television, and an anonymous lead-screening program was set up for marijuana users. Among 145 people who showed up for testing, 95 more cases were found.
The authorities do not know where the tainted marijuana came from or why the lead was added, but the German police suspect that it was done to make money. The samples tested contained 10 percent lead by weight, which translates into an increased profit of about $682 per pound of marijuana.
The patients are recovering and taking medicines called chelating agents to help remove the lead from their bodies. But it could take years to clear it completely, particularly from bones. And some were quite disillusioned to learn that poison was added to what they thought was a pure, all-natural product, said their doctor, Prof. Michael Stumvoll of University Hospital in Leipzig, who commented, "How naïve!"
if this isnt a reason to grow your own i dont know what is