We’ve all got our preferred brand of rolling papers, finding one is a rite of passage for anyone who smokes. Once you find one you like, that’s that, right? Well perhaps it shouldn’t be.

SC Labs in Santa Cruz, CA ran some tests in July that had some alarming results. They had a large number of pre-roll specimens test positive for heavy metal and pesticide contamination. The weed was clean, meaning the papers were the problem. 118 products from Amazon and local smoke shops were immediately tested. So what are the numbers? Well, 16 percent failed with detectable levels of toxic pesticides, with 5 percent testing beyond California’s legal safety limit for inhalable products. Sure, that’s pretty bad, but a whopping 90 percent of products were found containing heavy metals with 8 percent of them testing over the state-mandated safety limit. The metals were identified as cadmium, mercury, arsenic & lead (with lead being the most common).

SC labs did not disclose the names of these products, but the main offenders were flavored blunt wraps and cellulose-based “clear” papers. Some of the clear papers tested at over 100 times the safety limit for lead contamination, so absolutely stay away from those. The labs recommended treating these products in the same way as one should treat seafood with questionable levels of mercury – consume sparingly at best.

The analysis concluded by saying: “While 11 percent of the rolling papers in this study would fail above the action limits for inhalable products in California, it should be noted that the paper constitutes only a fraction of the overall mass of a cannabis pre roll product. Although the ratio of the mass of paper to cannabis flower varies within pre-roll products depending on a number of factors, it is safe to assume that rolling paper products that fail near the action limit would most likely not cause a compliance failure when combined with ‘clean’ cannabis.”. So all of this isn’t as bad as it sounds, but it still is cause for concern. One thing to remember is that the thicker your paper is, the higher level of carcinogens it might contain.

Considering there are no widely recognized safety standards for cannabis products, we have to be very careful here. Findings like this can cause serious panic and irreversible damage to the industry as a whole. Symptoms from smoking carcinogenically contaminated paraphernalia include neurotoxicity, cancer, kidney failure and a whole other subset of problems that we would be better off without. The best thing we can do in light of these facts is to shop smart and ask questions about what is in the things we consume.


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