Trimmers: can simply trimming your cannabis crop cause THC to get into your system?
One of the most popular jobs in the marijuana industry is trimming. There are more legal marijuana gardens in America than ever before, and all of those marijuana plants have to be harvested and trimmed. There are many machines on the market that will trim marijuana on an industrial scale, however, it’s been my experience that the trimming machines that are out there are not as good as an old fashioned small army of humans with clippers.
Machines basically ‘shave’ down the outer leaves via some type of tumbling action, similar to machines that are used for rocks. The marijuana trimming machines are fancier, but they aren’t able to really get in there and remove big leaves as close to the stem as possible. Another super popular job in the marijuana industry is being a budtender. Like trimmers, budtenders handle large amounts of marijuana. People that work at processing facilities also handle a lot of marijuana.
For many people in the marijuana industry, absorbing THC via the handling of marijuana is not a big deal. But for some in the industry, and for many members of society, having THC in the system is bad news. This could be due to court ordered drug testing related to rehab or diversion programs. It could be because of a job (outside of the industry) that involves random drug testing. There’s a number of reasons why a person can’t have THC in their system. Yet few realize that simply handling marijuana can result in testing positive for marijuana.
What The Science Says
A study was conducted in Germany, the results of which were released earlier this year. The study had participants roll one joint a day for five days in a row. The participants then submitted hair for analysis. The study concluded the following:
THCA-A and THC could be detected in the hair samples from all participants taken at the end of the exposure period (concentration range: 15-1800 pg/mg for THCA-A and < 10-93 pg/mg for THC). Four weeks after the first exposure, THCA-A could still be detected in the hair samples of nine participants (concentration range: 4-57 pg/mg). Furthermore, THC could be detected in the hair samples of five participants (concentration range: < 10-17 pg/mg). Based on these results, it can be concluded that at least parts of the THC as well as the major part of THCA-A found in routine hair analysis derives from external contamination caused by direct transfer through contaminated fingers.
I added the bold for emphasis. I think that for the most part, members of the industry wear gloves when handling marijuana, if for any reason for sanitary purposes. But I know some of my friends still handle marijuana without gloves, and some of them work at places that drug test. I would imagine there are many more people out there in the world that are in the same boat.
The Bottom Line
I know a lot of people that grow marijuana but don’t consume it. It’s not an uncommon thing in Oregon now that the cultivation of up to 4 plants is legal for adults over 21 years old. I also know a lot of people that don’t consume or grow, but think that it’s enjoyable to help others with their marijuana trimming needs (and it’s appreciated!). There’s a misconception among those crowds that they can still pass a drug test because they are consuming the marijuana. That’s not necessarily the case.
If rolling a joint once a day for five days is enough to test positive for THC, handling marijuana on the level that some people I know is not a good idea because of the other requirements they have to deal with in life. If you don’t care that THC is in your system, handle away! But if you are not supposed to have THC in your system, for better or worse, I’d recommend wearing gloves when handling our favorite plant.