It isn’t an overreaction to claim that moldy cannabis could be deadly. A study printed in The Sacramento Bee in February 2017 brought the seriousness of the problem to light. The research said that professionals from UC Davis discovered potentially harmful bacteria and mold on samples from 20 dispensaries and weed growers in Northern California.
Although the health effects of moldy marijuana are not fully known, it is potentially dangerous for people with weakened immune systems. People with chronic conditions, such as patients with AIDS or leukemia, could develop deadly lung infections from using moldy marijuana. Reportedly at least two people have died from using weed containing mold.
Many people don’t know how to tell the difference between mold and regular, healthy marijuana. This guide will help you understand the difference between moldy weed and safe weed, so that you can avoid smoking harmful bacteria.
What’s the Problem with Mold on Cannabis?
The challenge is that moldy cannabis and high-quality weed look similar! If you’ve only ever used mids marijuana, you more than likely won’t have this problem. However, premium-grade bud is full of glistening milky white trichomes that give your marijuana its unmistakable kick. The issue is, moldy weed also looks white upon first glance. Even a powdery mildew infection causes leaves and buds to become overrun with white specks. If you are new to smoking cannabis, it can be challenging to make the connection between the two.
Even though some of cannabis’ chemicals work as natural fungicides, the dense structure of certain strains makes them more likely to get infected. Kush strains are especially prone to mold and mildew. Therefore, any hybrid containing Kush is also likely to develop mold. Common pathogens in weed include:
- White Mold
Almost ninety species of fungi attack your marijuana plants, including mold spores which are irritatingly resilient. They can survive the heat of an oven when you ‘decarb’ your weed and even withstand the heat of a joint or bowl being lit up. When inhaling moldy weed, the spores go straight to your lungs.
Certain molds release mycotoxins, some of which are known carcinogens. For example, the Aspergillus pathogen releases Aflatoxin and Ochratoxin. Chronic exposure to these toxins can result in health problems such as vomiting, nausea, coughing, inflammation, asthma, and lung irritation.
How to Differentiate Mold from Trichomes Using Your Five Senses
Although moldy and high-quality weed may both have a white coating, you can tell them apart if you look closely. If you want to be absolutely certain, get yourself a magnifying glass. When inspecting the bud more carefully, trichomes will be evident because they are either crystal or milky white with mushroom heads.
The trichomes that cover the buds act like a beacon when seen up close.
Moldy weed looks ‘old,’ in comparison to fresh weed. The mold on weed is similar to the mold you would find growing on fruit and vegetables that have gone bad. If you take a close look at it under bright light, or with a magnifying glass, you can see small hair-like fuzz that is white, brown, green, gray or black. Another way people describe mold is that it looks like spider webs or white cotton candy.
As you may or may not know, terpenes are what give weed its various and unique smells, such as citrus, spice, pine, fruit, etc. If you’re unsure of which strain to purchase based on smell alone, do some research beforehand so that you know what to expect. And if your sense of smell is reasonable-and it should be-you’ll have no problem identifying moldy weed by scent.
The smell of mold is often compared to the earthy aroma of weed, making it difficult for those new to smoking to distinguish between the two. If your weed smells like damp clothes, then there’s a chance it has gone bad. You may notice an excessively sweet scent paired with a musty and dank smell; this is sign that your marijuana contains too much moisture content.
In high-quality weed, you will find it easy to pull the nugs apart. If you trust the source and know that it is good quality marijuana, remember how it feels for future reference. If the weed feels crumbly and has compressed nugs, it is low-grade cannabis.
Believe it or not, you can use your ears to tell if marijuana is high-quality. When the buds are dried and cured correctly, they make a snapping sound when pulled apart. This ‘crisp’ noise indicates low moisture content, which is what you want in cannabis.
If the buds are hard to pull apart or don’t make much noise when doing so, they likely contain a high moisture content. This is indicative of poorly dried weed. This also increases the risk of mold growth.
Hopefully, you will be able to determine moldy weed long before taking a ‘taste test.’ If you get this far, it should be easy to tell the difference between high-quality bud and Mexican brick weed.
Good quality marijuana offers a smooth and easy feeling. Bad cannabis tastes harsh and hits you with coughing fits.
Unless you’re smoking Strawberry Cough, which is appropriately named as it makes users cough, the weed you have isn’t good.
Provided cannabis is dried and cured efficiently, it typically has a shelf life of several months. To achieve this, weed should ideally be hung upside down to dry for numerous days before being placed in airtight glass containers. If done correctly, stored weed can last up to six months or longer.
However, if marijuana isn’t dried properly or thoroughly enough, mold can form. Learn how to spot it because smoking moldy weed can be deadly if you have a weak immune system. Make sure you research marijuana standards in your region before purchasing any product. Unfortunately, without uniform testing standards, there is an enormous disparity between the quality of weed testing in different areas. This can even be the case within the same state.
Vegas isn’t the only place where you can take a risk with your health–purchasing marijuana from an unreliable dispensary is also dangerous. Make sure to buy your weed from brands that quality test for pathogens and molds, or you could be putting yourself in harm’s way.