Mycotoxins grow on various types of crops, including cannabis/hemp, and foodstuffs often under warm and humid conditions. These can make you very sick. In uneasy news for medical marijuana users, UC Davis researchers have identified potentially lethal bacteria and mold on samples from 20 Northern California pot growers and dispensaries, leading the doctors to warn patients with weakened immune systems to avoid smoking, vaping or inhaling aerosolized cannabis. When there is mold in the cannabis, is it safe to cut off the spoiled part and use the rest? Explore the effects of mold on cannabis and how you should handle moldy weed here.
What are mycotoxins and why are they a concern to CBD products?
Wonder why most fungi cause so many health issues? Some of those issues are from certain productions of fungus, known as mycotoxins.
Mycotoxins are toxic secondary metabolites created by a fungus (molds). In basic terms, they are fungal poisons. The molds often grow on various types of crops (including cannabis/hemp) and foods under warm and humid conditions.
Types of Mycotoxins
Mycotoxins consist of four aflatoxins (O1, O2, G1, G2) and ochratoxin A. Ochratoxin A is a known carcinogen and can be dangerous. Aflatoxins are toxic, potentially causing immunotoxicity, teratogenicity, and hepatotoxicity.
Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) is one of the most potent, naturally-occurring carcinogens. The most toxic member of the mycotoxins group.
What’s the Problem with Mycotoxins?
Mycotoxins are poisonous to both humans and animals. They cause various adverse effects, including acute poisoning. Long-term chronic exposure to mycotoxins may result in immune deficiencies and cancer. You can absorb mycotoxins by inhalation— for example, breathing in toxic mold in the environment, and through your skin or the intestinal lining if you eat foods contaminated with mycotoxins.
Symptoms of Possible Mold and Mycotoxin Exposure
- runny stuffy nose
- rapid weight gain or loss
- hair loss
- dry skin
- hypersensitivity pneumonitis
- chronic pain
- leaky gut
- blurred vision
- behavioral changes
- teeth conditions
- insulin resistance
- chemical sensitivity (Toxic Encephalopathy)
- constipation and or diarrhea
- abdominal cramps
- heart failure
Inflammatory conditions can occur due to mycotoxins’ ability to push the immune system into overdrive. It’s important to always check lab reports before using any cannabis product to ensure it is free of molds.
If mold or mycotoxin is a concern, please seek a licensed, knowledgeable practitioner to confirm a diagnosis and oversee treatment.
UC Davis study identifies potentially lethal bacteria and mold in cannabis grown in northern California
In uneasy news for medical marijuana users, UC Davis researchers have identified potentially lethal bacteria and mold on samples from 20 Northern California pot growers and dispensaries, leading the doctors to warn patients with weakened immune systems to avoid smoking, vaping or inhaling aerosolized cannabis.
“For the vast majority of cannabis users, this is not of great concern,” said Dr. George Thompson, professor in the UC Davis Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. But those with weakened immune systems – such as from leukemia, lymphoma, AIDS or cancer treatments – could unwittingly be exposing themselves to serious lung infections when they smoke or vape medical marijuana.
“We strongly advise them to avoid it,” Thompson said.
The study’s findings were published online in a research letter in the journal Clinical Microbiology and Infection.
It comes as and a majority of U.S. doctors support the use of medical marijuana to relieve patients’ symptoms, such as pain, nausea and loss of appetite during chemotherapy and other treatments.
Typically, patients with lower-functioning immune systems are advised to avoid unwashed fruits or vegetables and cut flowers because they may harbor potentially harmful bacteria and mold, or fungi. Marijuana belongs in that same risk category, according to Thompson.
“Cannabis is not on that list and it’s a big oversight, in our opinion,” Thompson said. “It’s basically dead vegetative material and always covered in fungi.”
The study began several years ago after Dr. Joseph Tuscano, a UC Davis blood cancer specialist, began seeing leukemia patients who were developing rare, very severe lung infections. One patient died.
Suspecting there might be a link between the infections and his patients’ use of medical marijuana, Tuscano teamed with Thompson to study whether soil-borne pathogens might be hiding in medical marijuana samples.
The marijuana was gathered from 20 Northern California growers and dispensaries by Steep Hill Labs, a cannabis testing company in Berkeley. It was distilled into DNA samples and sent to UC Davis for analysis, which found multiple kinds of bacteria and fungi, some of which are linked to serious lung infections.
There was a “surprisingly” large number of bacteria and mold, said Donald Land, a UC Davis chemistry professor who is chief scientific consultant for Steep Hill Labs.
The analysis found numerous types of bacteria and fungi, including organic pathogens that can lead to a particularly deadly infection known as Mucor.
“There’s a misconception by people who think that because it’s from a dispensary, then it must be safe. That’s not the case,” said UC Davis’ Tuscano. “This is potentially a direct inoculation into the lungs of these contaminated organisms, especially if you use a bong or vaporization technique.”
Patients with compromised immune systems are especially susceptible to infections, usually acquired in their environment or in the hospital. But given the testing results, Tuscano said, it’s possible that even some of the more common infections, such as aspergillus, could also be attributed to contaminated medical marijuana.
Tuscano emphasized that until more research is done, he can’t be 100 percent assured that contaminated cannabis caused the infections, but “it’s highly suspicious.”
Under , the voter-approved initiative that eased restrictions on , the state is expected to have cannabis testing regulations in place for medical marijuana by Jan. 1.
“Patient safety is one of our chief concerns in this process,” said Alex Traverso, spokesman for the state, in an email. He said the state’s new medical-marijuana testing standards will soon be available for public review. “We welcome everyone’s input to ensure that testing standards are as strong as we need them to be.”
Until then, consumers are largely on their own.
The vast majority of cannabis sold in California is not tested, according to Land.
“You can’t tell what’s in (a marijuana product) by looking at it, smelling it, feeling it, or a person in a dispensary telling you it’s safe or clean,” he said. “The only way to ensure you have a safe, clean product is to test it and be sure it’s handled according to good manufacturing practices.”
Some medical marijuana clinics already do voluntary testing of their products. Kimberly Cargile, director of A Therapeutic Alternative, a medical marijuana clinic in Sacramento, said a sample from every incoming pound of pot is sent to a local, independent testing lab.
“It’s for consumer protection. It’s a healthy first step,” Cargile said.
To avoid the risk of exposure to severe lung infections, Thompson and Tuscano advise cancer patients and others with hampered immune systems to avoid smoking, vaping or inhaling aerosolized cannabis altogether. Cannabis edibles, such as baked cookies or brownies, could be a safer alternative.
Theoretically, Thompson said, the consumption of cooked edibles seems safer than smoking or vaping, but it’s not scientifically proven.
“I give that advice with a caveat: We don’t know it’s safer; we think it probably is,” he said.
For patients heeding the UC Davis advice to avoid smoking or vaping medical marijuana, “it’s always better to err on the side of caution,” said medical marijuana advocate Cargile. There are plenty of alternatives, she noted, including cannabis salves, lotions, sprays, tinctures and suppositories.
The Riskiness of Mold in Cannabis
Explore the effects of mold on cannabis and how you should handle moldy weed.
Home » Blog » The Riskiness of Mold in Cannabis
This article was written by Natalie Gray.
There are more than 300.000 kinds of mold, and scientists keep finding more. Some of them are relatively harmless, and some of them can make people develop allergic reactions or make you sick. When there is mold in the cannabis, is it safe to cut off the spoiled part and use the rest? The answer will be provided further on.
What is Mold?
Molds are microscopic fungi that live within animals and people. Most of them are thread-like organisms that reproduce through spores. These spores can be transferred by air, water, food, or insects.
Unlike bacteria-who are the naked eye can see one celled-mold. Because they are part of the fungi family, if you use a microscope, they look like tiny mushrooms. Furthermore, they can be categorized into three levels of riskiness:
Allergenic Mold is the least dangerous one. When Mold is around. People tend to breathe the spores that are in the air, but some have allergic reactions or experience another-like symptoms. “Sneezing, itching, runny nose, and congestion, and dry skin” are some of the symptoms people can present. Most common allergicMolds are:
- Alternaria: The mold genus can grow indoors, especially damp surfaces with a food source, such as wood.
- Penicillium: There is a wide variety of this species. It is a blue-green that tends to grow in food.
- Cladosporium: This mold is commonly found on wet building materials, such as gypsum board, acrylic painted walls, wood.
A pathogenic mold can cause some infection in humans, even if their health is in good condition. Some pathogenic fungus falls into more than one category, and that includes allergenic Mold. Most common Pathogenic Molds are:
- Cryptococcus neoformans: People can develop an infection after inhaling its spores, although it is infrequent for those with healthy immune systems.
- Histoplasma capsulatum: Inhaled spores can also cause Pneumonia. This Mold is usually found in soil.
The term toxigenic is misleading since they are not toxic or poisonous. However, they can produce toxins (specific mycotoxins), which can cause a toxic response in humans and animals. Mycotoxins do not use spores for reproduction. However, some can become airborne and travel with Mold that can produce spores.
Mycotoxins are primarily found ingrains and nut crops but are also known to be on celery, grape juice, apples, and other food products. “There are many of them, and scientists are continually discovering new ones. “The Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO) of the United Nations estimates that 25% of the world’s food crops are affected by mycotoxins, of which the most notorious are aflatoxins.” Most common Toxigenic Mold:
- Fusarium species
- Aspergillus species
- Stachybotrys chartarum
Mold can exist anywhere in the world where the right conditions exist. So, if there is mold present, and you knowhow to handle the situation, you can limit your risk of experiencing health effects from mold spore and mycotoxin exposure.
Growers should be aware of what is in their homegrown cannabis setup. If they see any Mold, they have to make sure to act and remove it as soon as possible. If they do not, they will be facing the consequences. Experts should be the ones providing detailed information about the issues of not removing Mold. They need to advise how to deal with it.
One of the effects of inhaling Mold’s spores is Pneumonia. It can be spread via air, meaning if someone cough or sneeze people are likely to get the same illness. But that is not the only way that people can get infected. If you touch someone else’s blood that possessPneumonia, you will get it as well. But there are different ways to prevent this from happening:
- Make sure to clean the place you are living so no dust carrying spores can get into your nose or mouth.
- Eating fruit and vegetables help your body to improve people’s natural defenses.
How to protect yourself from mold spores and mycotoxins?
- Use respiratory protection when handling anything that has Mold on it — a respiratory mask grants protection to people’s nose and mouth.
- Wear clothes that prevent mold spores from touching the whole body. Wash the cloth carefully after done working with Mold.
- Wear gloves and eyewear.
If you follow all the procedures as mentioned, the likelihood of you getting sick will drop almost to zero. If you do not happen to have any of the materials, handle the situation as best as you can, and make sure you wash any parts of your body that touched the Mold.
How to Handle Moldy Weed
Mold in cannabis can be handled in a variety of ways. On some occasions, it is good to cut the moldy part and used the rest, but in some other cases, weed will need to be thrown away immediately.
If you see Mold is soft weeds drive it away quickly, because the spores are not only on the surface, they are beneath as well. On the other hand, if there is Mold in hard-like aliment, you can still use it, but the moldy part will need to be removed first.