Chances are you have heard about things like black mold, toxic mold, or new stories about how mold in your home can make you sick. Indeed, these mold illnesses afflict large numbers of people every year.
Yet mold is present in more than just musty old basements, crawl spaces, and behind leaky faucets. It can live in just about any porous substance and like a fungus, it has the ability to propagate into all kinds of things, including marijuana for legal, medical, or recreational use!
It’s worth noting that the University of California Davis conducted a study in February of 2017 to test the microbial presence on marijuana. They collected 20 samples from various medical dispensaries. Their tests revealed a plethora of bacteria, including E. Coli and Klebsiella, as well as dangerous mold spores.
Different Types Of Cannabis Mold
Mold seems to be an odd thing to find in cannabis when you consider that some of its compounds are known to be naturally potent fungicides. Yet the dense nature of the marijuana plants bud structure can provide porous structures where mold spores can establish a small colony. If these spores are then inhaled or ingested, they have the potential to make the user sick!
There are different types of fungi and mold present in cannabis that have the ability to resist the plants natural anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. At the same time, certain strains of cannabis are genetically susceptible to mold and other fungal infestations.
Cannabis afghanica, which is more commonly known as Kush has been shown to be increasingly susceptible to certain types of mold as well as mildews. Hybrid strains of the highly popular Kush can potentially carry this vulnerability from one generation to the next.
Different Types Of Cannabis Mold
While research into cannabis mold is in its relative infancy, there have been at least 88 different types of fungi and an even larger number of other microbes found on cannabis plants. While some are obscure, there are a few more common types of mold that can affect cannabis being sold for medicinal and recreational purposes.
White mold is a type of fungus known to attack plants in damp conditions. It looks like white cotton strands.
Fusarium is a filamentous fungi that is a common problem with corn growers. It can live in any type of soil and has the ability to affect a mature cannabis plant. It tends to damage stalks and stems turning them a dark color.
Aspergillus is an airborne fungus, that when inhaled has little impact on a healthy human body. However, individuals with weakened or a suppressed immune system may experience an allergic reaction after inhaling aspergillus spores.
Cladosporium causes dark brown and olive-green splotches to form on the affected plant. Inhaling it can cause a allergic reaction in people with mold allergies or a weakened immune system. It can also increase your chances of suffering an asthma attack.
Tips For Spotting Cannabis Mold
The cannabis industry continues to evolve. Part of that process includes developing policies and procedures for quality and assurance. While industry producers are certainly putting forth their best effort, mold and other microbes are currently a cause for concern.
In many cases the presence of mold, fungi, and other microbes may not be visible to the naked eye and scanning your marijuana with a microscope can be beyond tedious. Still, there are a few things you can watch out for when selecting marijuana for use.
Look For Visible Fuzz And Uncommon Strands
In certain conditions, cannabis can develop trichome mold. This causes the sample to look dusty white or even develop a green mold as you would see on moldy bread. If you look at it under a bright light you might also see a white, green, brown or even black strands.
Beware Of An Overly Musty Smell
Many strains of cannabis are known and even prized for their aroma. Some even have a strong musty or earthy smell. At the same time, you should also beware of a cannabis sample that smells like a wet basement or an overly sweet aroma mixed with the musty aroma. These types of odors can be indicators that the plant’s flowers were wet, or the sample was not thoroughly dried before processing, which leaves behind an environment that is easily capable of supporting mold spores.
Watch Out For Damp flowers
The flowers of a cannabis plant tend to hold more moisture than the leaves and other components. This is what makes them feel a little bit sticky, yet still crisp enough to break apart cleanly. If you the flower parts of a cannabis sample are too pliant or feel wet from improper drying, then it is at increased risk for harboring mold.
Pay Attention To Your Allergies
Inhaling mold spores can sometimes stimulate an allergic reaction. If you find yourself dealing with increased allergic irritation after using a new cannabis product, it might be your body’s way of telling you that the sample has been compromised by mold, fungi, or some other type of microbe.
Tips For Avoiding Moldy Cannabis
As marijuana become legal in more and more states, it means that there are more and more options for acquiring it. While you can never be 100% sure that your cannabis is completely free of mold, there are a few things you can do to reduce your chances of getting a moldy sample.
Look For Cannabis That Has Been Laboratory Tested
Different states have different rules and regulations for how cannabis products can be grown, purchased, and used. While there are no uniform testing codes at this time, some producers and providers will provide samples to be tested for quality and safety assurance.
The cost of these samples might be a little higher. Yet it could well be worth it if you are using medicinal cannabis and have a weakened or suppressed immune system.
Store Cannabis Properly
Just like how you wouldn’t leave a loaf of bread sitting out on the counter, for fear of mold and staleness, you shouldn’t take a casual stance toward storing your cannabis products. Whenever possible try to store it in an air-tight glass container. Ideally, you could also include a small humidity park in the jar to help maintain a consistent humidity level around 65%. Then store the container in a cool dark place.
Protect Outdoor Plants From The Rain
If you have a permit, or your state allows you to grow cannabis for personal use, you should beware the potential hazards posed by rain and excess humidity. Cannabis buds should not be exposed to the rain as the trapped moisture can easily harbor mold spores.
Ideally, you want to grow them in a hoop house or some other covering where you can regulate the humidity. A dehumidifier might also be helpful for maintaining anti-fungal conditions.