While we wish that every single marijuana plant was completely natural and unaltered, unfortunately, there is contaminated weed on the market. One of the biggest issues facing the cannabis market is the lack of testing. Although cannabis is safe, it can be contaminated with harmful substances, and at present, it is estimated that just 5% of weed products for sale in the state of California (where marijuana is now legal for recreational use) are tested for safety.
Cannabis experts in California are concerned that up to half of the weed grown in the state contains bacteria, chemicals, or other contaminants. The landscape improved slightly on January 1, 2018 when state law was changed to ensure that weed is tested for 66 harmful chemicals, pesticides, and dangerous fungi, but there are still plenty of concerns lingering – especially when considering that there are only 19 labs in the whole of California, and they are tasked with testing over 50,000 weed farms!
According to Tony Daniel of Steep Hill, a pot safety testing lab, the majority of the existing weed supply would fail in an unregulated market. In this article, we look at five signs of potential contamination in weed. But first, we’re going to take a look at a new case study that has discovered the existence of a fungus in California weed that is capable of causing serious medical problems.
Coccidioides immitis Fungus
In January 2018, the British Medical Journal published a case study about a heavy weed user who began experiencing severe side effects. She smoked up to six joints a day and began suffering from tiredness, dizziness and memory loss, the latter symptom becoming so bad that she forgot her name on some occasions. Eventually, physicians determined that the cause was a coccidioidomycosis infection, which came from weed in California.
In certain regions in the state, a fungus species called Coccidioides immitis can cause Coccidioidomycosis, which is also known as Cocci or Valley Fever. When marijuana plants are grown in soil where the fungus is living, its spores can potentially end up on the cannabis plants. Researchers took samples from the woman’s dispensary in Bakersfield and found that an incredible 90% of tested plants contained pesticides, while crops from 20 farms contained mold.
Additionally, in February 2017, a cancer patient in California died from a rare fungal infection which was traced back to the weed they took. Although pesticides and fungicides are used on crops which we eat, they are not safe in weed. Myclobutanil, for example, is one of the worst chemicals because it forms cyanide gas which can enter the bloodstream. If you’re concerned about mold and fungus in your weed, here are five signs that you’re possibly dealing with contaminated marijuana.
1 – Unusual Color
The first sign of contaminated weed is visible on the marijuana plant. If you see speckled white powdery substances or ‘fuzz’ that is green or grayish in color, there’s a good chance that you’re dealing with contaminated weed. If you grow weed, make sure you check it for mildew and mold regularly.
If you catch the mold problem nice and early, you can save your crop. Leave it too late however, and you will have to destroy everything. Unfortunately, mold spores are capable of easily spreading to other plants because the mold spores travel through the air. Also, in certain conditions, the spores can potentially grow into fungus. If dried bud begins showing signs of mold infestation, dump the sample and investigate your crop to see how much damage has been done.
2 – Spongy Texture
Grab some of the weed and place it between your fingers; how does it feel? If it is dry and crispy, there is no danger of mold. If it is damp and spongy, you may have a mold problem. Incidentally, beware of weed that has a powdery texture because this is a sign that something ‘extra’ has been added. Unscrupulous dealers sometimes add crushed pills to the bud and make it look like kief.
3 – Scent
Although every marijuana strain has a unique scent, it should offer a natural and musky sweet aroma. If it smells damp, excessively sweet or ‘gone off’, there’s a good chance that you’re dealing with moldy weed. We also recommend being wary of dried buds that carry a smell akin to freshly cut grass, as this is a sign it hasn’t been dried and cured correctly. Marijuana flowers that fall into this category are more likely to develop mold while in storage.
4 – Chest Pains
While you may feel some unusual sensations in your lungs from time to time after especially heavy smoke sessions, weed should not make you suffer from chest pain. If you smoke weed and are soon struck down with uncomfortable chest pain, get in touch with a doctor ASAP. It is likely that the weed you’ve smoked contained mold, fertilizers, or pesticides, and if left untreated, it could prove fatal.
5 – Allergic Reaction
If you’ve never experienced an adverse reaction to weed when suddenly, you’re struck down with eye inflammation, an itchy throat or excessive mucus production, there’s a strong chance that moldy marijuana is to blame, and you have suffered an allergic reaction to the contaminants. Once again, it is imperative to get in touch with a doctor as soon as this happens.
Final Thoughts on Contaminated Weed
Hopefully, states become more vigilant about testing weed and begin to follow the standards set forth by California, where major steps are being taken in the right direction. The State Cannabis Bureau, in fact, has created a timeline for weed testing and aims to test everything by the end of 2018. No matter where you live, always purchase your weed from a licensed dispensary and don’t be afraid to ask for proof that it has been tested.
If you smoke weed contaminated with mold and/or mildew, symptoms will include excessive coughing, nosebleed, chest pains, fever, and dizziness. Marijuana growers have an obligation to the public to stay vigilant and ensure they don’t allow contaminated weed to enter the marketplace. Also, please bear in mind that mold tends to target marijuana in the final two weeks before harvest and the two weeks after. As mold travels so easily, the more weed you grow, the more targets mold has, so make sure you inspect your plants daily.