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Did you know the government used a deadly chemical called Paraquat to kill weed? The CDC calls it an emergency agent Paraquat. It was first produced 1961 and worldwide it’s still one of the most commonly used herbicides. Don’t think its a coincidence that herbicides are called weed killers. Paraquat was not only used to eradicate opium poppy fields in Guatemala in 1997; it was used for the same reason in Mexico, and also used to kill marijuana crops in the late 60's to the early 70's. Not only that, agent Paraquat was a major problem for self-poisoning and suicide in several countries according to The British Journal of Pharmacology. In Samoa 70% of self poising suicides cases were because of the use of Paraquat between 1979 and 2000. In 1986 to 1990, 63% of all suicide deaths in Trinidad and Tobago were due to paraquat. Self poisoning is also a major health issue in the Asia–Pacific region (BJCP, 2011).
For years, Mexico tried to end the growth of marijuana crops by spraying fields with Paraquat. Studies also show the US government authorized arial spraying of Paraquat on Mexican marijuana crops, but growers continued to grow and sell their herbs in order to make a profit before the harvest was completely destroyed. The crops were still found to be poisonous and posed risk to marijuana smokers who had access to the sale of Mexican weed in southern California and urban cities on the east coast of the United States (NY Times, 1978).
The Drug and Democracy program explain more about the history of crop poising in a publication called The Vicious Circle, The Chemical and Biological War on Drugs. Paraquat is specifically dangerous when it's inhaled. It can lead to Heart failure, Kidney failure, Liver failure and Lung scarring in smokers. Why would anyone intentionally poison crops? Some research suggests the eradication strategy was used to get rid of the drug problem. Other research suggests it was to control the supply and thereby increase the price (TNI.org, 2000).
Because paraquat is highly poisonous, it’s marketed in the United States with a blue dye and a sharp odor to serve as a warning. It also has an added agent to cause vomiting if someone drinks it. Paraquat sold or distributed outside of the United States may not have these safeguards added. Some product labels indicate Paraquat was made in the USA and distributed by another country.
As a psychologist and a communications specialist it's my job to inform the public. So, I suggest if your weed looks blue, if smells strange, if comes with a health warning on the packaging, and/or notes it has not been tested. Beware. Of course, the best way to protect yourself is to avoid smoking. If you know you're not going to to that, especially on 420, stay informed to encourage safer smoking.
There are limitations to this research as the latest resources used to provided information are from 2011 and prior dates. Current information about Paraquat and associated lawsuits are available online which link the herbicide to Parkinson's Disease in which the EPA found insufficient information to confirm this disease or other health risks have any relation to the use of Paraquat when it is used according to the label directions (epa.org). The product label for Paraquat also known as Gramoxone warns the product is dangerous poison, and is indented for commercially licensed users for the purpose of wide range grass and weed control.
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