What’s that in Your Weed? – Mold, Fungus, and Bacteria, Oh My!

Many doctors and patients who recommend and choose medical marijuana do so because of the plant’s perceived safety. Indeed, there are few potential side effects that are associated with marijuana (unlike the ones experienced while using opioids), and it is literally impossible to overdose and experience a fatality. Unfortunately, recent reports of mold, fungus, and pesticides are now wreaking havoc on the plant’s reputation, and may even be responsible for the death of one California man.

Cancer Patient Suffers Rare Infection

The study came about after Dr. Joseph Tuscano, a professor of internal medicine in the Division of Hematology and Oncology, lost one of his patients to a rare and incurable fungal infection. He wondered if it could somehow be linked to the marijuana that the patient had been using, so he started investigating. Upon inspection, he and his team found bacteria, mold, and fungi in 20 different samplings from dispensaries in Northern California.

Not a Concern for Most Users

Although mold, bacteria, and fungus are considered “bad,” this is not always the case. Mushrooms, which many people eat, are a fungus. We also come into contact with various strains of mold and bacteria throughout the day. Most of us do not get sick from this, but people with weakened immune systems are often encouraged to stay away from cut flowers and unwashed fruits and vegetables. Quite simply, their immune systems do not have the same ability to fight back against the organisms, so consuming them can lead to serious illness.

Marijuana, a dried flower, is no different. It comes into contact with the soil and can harbor various strains of mold, fungus, and bacteria. Now, if it were possible to wash marijuana, it might not be as much of an issue, but this is not really an option.

Protecting Your Health from Potentially Harmful Organisms

If you use medical marijuana to deal with chronic pain, nausea, or other symptoms and have a compromised immune system, don’t worry – all is not lost! There are ways to reduce your risk of infection that may result from exposure to mold, fungus, and bacteria.

First, be sure to query your dispensary to see what kind of testing they do. Ideally, independent third-party testing is the best option. However, some dispensaries prefer to keep their sources to small growers. Batstone Bud Shop, located in in Shelton, Washington, is just one example.

“You got to hand-pick them . . . We work very hard . . . we walk through the gardens. We talk to the growers,” Jami ****, owner of Batstone Bud Shop, said in an interview with Everything Medical Marijuana Magazine. “I take that extra care. It’s not about the price that I can get it for, it’s about the quality that I can get.”

Medical cannabis users who have compromised immune systems should also refrain from using inhalation methods to medicate (i.e. smoking, vaping, dabbing, etc.). Instead, opt for baked goods, which may be safer than smoking or inhaling, or go for lab-processed medications, such as salves, tinctures, and suppositories. This can reduce your overall risk of contracting a rare illness, but still ensures you are able to medicate.

Please note that all situations are unique. If you have any concerns about your health, or your risk of infections, please be sure to speak with your doctor. They are the most qualified to give you medical advice that is specific to your condition.

If you want more information like this on medical cannabis, check out our next issue. As always, Everything Medical Marijuana Magazine will continue to update you on the latest news, laws, legislation, and developments in the medical cannabis movement.

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