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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2018 Nov 1;192:250-256. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.07.040. Epub 2018 Sep 13.

Growing practices and the use of potentially harmful chemical additives among a sample of small-scale cannabis growers in three countries.

Author information

National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, WA, 6845, Australia. Electronic address:
Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research, Aarhus University, Aarhus BSS, Bartholins Allé 10, 8000, Aarhus C, Denmark.
National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, WA, 6845, Australia; Drug Policy Modelling Program, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia; Behaviours and Health Risks Program, Burnet Institute, 85 Commercial Road, Melbourne, VIC, 3004, Australia.
Lancaster University Law School, Bowland North, Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YN, United Kingdom.
Institute for Social Drug Research (ISD), Ghent University, Faculty of Law and Criminology, Universiteitstraat 4, 9000, Gent, Belgium.



With the growth of legal cannabis markets there has been recognition of the adverse impacts of certain cannabis growing practices, notably, use of harmful chemicals. A major concern has been the use of Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs) which limit plant size and stimulate bud production. These chemicals, many of which have been banned from food crops, have been found unlisted in cannabis growing nutrients sold online or in hydroponic stores. This study describes the cannabis growing practices used by small-scale recreational cannabis growers and specifically their self-reported use of chemicals.


Web survey data from 1722 current and recent cannabis growers in Australia, Denmark, and the UK, who were asked about their cannabis growing practices, including the use of fertilizers and supplements.


Overall 44% of the sample reported using any chemical fertilizers, supplements or insecticides. Logistic regression indicated that the unique predictor of the use of chemicals was growing hydroponically.


Problems associated with product labeling and uncertainty regarding product constituents made it difficult for growers and the researchers to determine which products likely contained PGRs or other harmful chemicals. There is a need for further research to analyze constituents of chemical products marketed to cannabis growers.


Cannabis; Cultivation; International comparative research; Marijuana; On-line survey; Policy

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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