Smoking out the rat |

Smoking out the rat

Michaela Gibboni and Aschulee Thomas
Middle Park High School seniors
Grand County, Colorado

While on our previous investigation of Smoker’s Corner and tobacco use, we inevitably ran into another subject: marijuana. Those interviewed had some ideas regarding the drug, but one statement in particular stood out and we felt the need to examine it further.

“Both tobacco and marijuana contain the chemical used in rat poison.”

True or false?

This statement was first posed to us by an administrator at our school. Then during our interview with the Granby police chief we asked him to verify or negate the statement. As the former head of a major Midwest anti-drug task force, we figured his knowledge could clarify our question. However, after mild trepidation and minor doubt, he swept it aside as “probably true.” Overcome with disbelief, we chose to set out in search of the facts.

While it is indeed true that marijuana (or scientifically, cannabis) contains chemicals in it known as cannabinoids, they are naturally-occurring and synthesized by the plant. The same goes for tobacco (as a plant). However arsenic, the main ingredient in rat poison, is also a naturally-occurring substance but it does not grow naturally in marijuana or tobacco. The issue of arsenic concentration arises when the government gets involved with the plants. Pesticides containing arsenic are often used on tobacco crop, and also for some government-issued marijuana in Canada. Some marijuana is laced with rat poison, much like it can sometimes be laced with cocaine or PCP, but does not grow in the actual plant.

Neither marijuana nor tobacco, in the raw plant form, contain rat poison. It is only when it becomes an industry does something natural get tainted. The verdict? False.