Everything about MOLD and marijuana
- From: "ronchese" <nospam@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 29 Oct 2009 13:49:47 -0500
Everything about MOLD and marijuana
I've recently become interested in molds and fungus that apply to the
rotting and contamination of marijuana, their related health problems,
prevention methods, and so forth.
I researched as much as I could on the internet about it, and am writing
this post because I basically feel that all the threads addressing this
issue are heresay and myths. Please note although sometimes I say something
along the lines of "this mold is not specifically bad, and won't kill you",
i'm saying just that. This does not mean that it won't cause sickness, or
that it is not better to just throw away moldy weed, I just like to give
To start off, I must say that mold and fungus is much more prominent and
most likely inhaled far more than people would like to admit, as this study
suggests "Fungi were identified in 13 of 14 MJ samples" *1. But is this
really bad, which molds are deadly and which are not, do I have to throw
away my entire stash if it gets infected? Hopefully conclusions to these
questions can be drawn from the information here.
Please note, any *x is the number of the reference used (references are at
the bottom), and anything in "quotes" and italics are direct quotes from
How bad is bad?
Here we look at how bad an infection can get from mold, and the most
probable results are.
First, the "bad" part in molds are something called mycotoxins, and seem to
be (usually) only bad if someone is exposed to them a lot over long periods
of time. It seems most molds contain mycotoxins, so there's not much chance
in avoiding them. *8.
Most effects seem to be allergic reactions or asthma, which usually occur
"in sensitive individuals. About 15 million Americans are allergic to mold.
The most common reactions are flu-like symptoms and asthma. Those with
chronic lung or immune problems, are at risk for more serious reactions like
fever, lung infections and a pneumonia-like illness." *8. Most actual
sicknesses (like the one from aspergillus), bronchitus, mold "growing" in
your lungs, is not a problem for healthy individuals and is not a prominent
factor in the most common molds.
Surprisingly most research indicates that if a strain is particularly bad,
it is MUCH worse when digested than when inhaled. Thus, with certain strains
it's actually better to smoke the weed than to cook it, as some (notice,
it's not all) strains will not die when exposed to extremely high
temperatures. Anaerobic Bacteria for example is one of these, while very
harmful if inhaled, it is FAR more devestating when ingested.
Here we answer, what are the most common molds and how bad are they?
The only "deadly" mold seems to be one named Stachybotrys, and it is rather
rare. So it's not a general concern (as in, I wouldn't worry if you have
this one, you most likely don't). As well it seems more deadly (or perhaps
higher infection rate) to infants and elder people, or people with generally
bad immune systems.
The most common mold is Aspergillus, and it occurs literally everywhere,
from the soil to the trees.. you have definitely inhaled it before if you've
ever been outside, and it is not a problem for people with regular immune
systems. The problem with this mold arises with people with extremely low
immune systems (AIDS, marrow transplants, etc..), where it may cause
problems. To further emphasize this point, "Aspergillus is a group of moulds
which is found everywhere world-wide, especially in the autumn and winter in
the Northern hemisphere. Only a few of these moulds can cause illness in
humans and animals. Most people are naturally immune and do not develop
disease caused by Aspergillus. However, when disease does occur, it takes
several forms." *6. As well, "The simplest may be contaminating pot with
fungi like Aspergillosis, which is still toxic when smoked. Healthy people
can inhale the spores and not get sick, but medical marijuana users can
contract skin disorders, pneumonia and other pulmonary infections, some of
them fatal." *4. Basically, I'd say that this mold, although bad, is not
really a concern. Most healthy people should have no problem with it.
Next is Anaerobic Bacteria, which only grows in dark and air tight (ie.
sealed jar) situations.. Anaerobic specifically means that it does not
require oxygen to grow. This one is easy to identify (brown & slimey, plus
you had your stash air tight), and is rather bad. That is to say, it's easy
to avoid, and thus you should never run into it, but if you do it's best to
just throw it out. The most common of these is a mold known as Clostridium
botulinum, and everything you could want to know about it is here:
Aspergillosis is a fungal infection that usually affects the lungs, but can
also settle in the ear canal or the sinuses. Sometimes the infection causes
no symptoms and is discovered only with a chest x-ray. But the disease can
cause alarming symptoms such as coughing up blood, fever, chest pain and
difficulty breathing. The fungus that causes the disease is very common and
is associated with decaying organic matter - it is found in compost heaps,
air vents and airborne dust; it has even been isolated in swimming pools and
saunas - but it doesn't usually affect healthy people. You are more
vulnerable to aspergillosis if you have a weakened immune system. Infections
can be quite serious and hard to treat, even fatal. However, if the
infection is localized to a single spot in the lung, it usually progresses
slowly. Because pulmonary aspergillosis can be a very serious infection, you
should be treated by a pulmonologist, a doctor who specializes in lung
Penicillium is another common one. From what I've read, it seems that it is
a concern. It's usually rather sickning, and is most common from
refridgerating (seems to prefer cold), but i'll get into that later. Your
only real worry here is from contamination from putting something with the
weed that can get Penicillium (ie. for re-hydration purposes), as we can see
here: "Adding peels to pot imparts a "pleasant bouquet" (Frank & Rosenthal).
In my case, the peel imparted a nidus of infection. _P italicum_, the "blue
citrus mold," is notorious for its ability to spread by contact (i.e., "one
bad apple spoils the whole bunch")." *2.
The last one i'll talk about is the one that people often cite reference to
when burying their weed to "increase the potency". To describe this more
specifically: "More recently, Margolis & Clorfene describe a mold that
_increases_ potency in marijuana. Their "black weblike fungus" sounds like
an _Aspergillus_ species" *2. This is kind of interesting, in that people
will bury their weed in hopes of securing this specific one to increase
potency.. but in my opinion it's not worth it, as it seems other strains
come up a lot more often and just ruin the entire stash.
How do you identify if you have a mold or not? I'll try to outline the main
It seems that "Infested marijuana often darkens in color and becomes
crumbly. Anaerobic bacteria turn marijuana into brown slime. Marijuana
undergoing rapid decay may feel warm to touch. ... Tufts of fungi are often
visible in mold material. In marijuana stored in darkness, strands look
white to light grey. Exposed to light, storage molds spawn millions of
colored spores in velvet clumps. A slight tap sends these spores into great
billowing clouds. Generally, _Rhizopus_ and _Mucor_ produce grey-black
spores; _Penicillium_ species are light blue-green; and _Aspergillus_
species are dark green-black." *2, which provides identification for
penicillium, aspergillus, rhizopus, mucor, anaerobic, and generally what to
look for (colour change, warmth, tufts, spores).
It also seems that it is possible to check for aflatoxins using a black
light *2. It seems "Material contaminated with aflatoxin-producing _A.
flavus_ will fluoresce to a green hue under ultraviolet light." *2.
Prevention & Ways around:
Fungal pneumonia is caused by overgrowth of the fungi in the lungs. Fungal
lung infections are usually seen in those with a poorly functioning immune
system, such as those with AIDS, and heavy smoker of tobacco or marijuana.
Fungi are plant-like organisms that do not make chlorophyll. Common examples
include mushrooms, yeasts, and molds. Fungi are normally present on the
skin. Examples of infections that are caused by fungi include
histoplasmosis, blastomycosis, cryptococcal pneumonia, coccidioidomycosis,
and aspergillosis. Symptoms of a fungal lung infection depend on the
underlying cause. Fungal lung infection can cause cough, fatigue, and fever.
Other symptoms include joint pains, muscle aches, and loss of appetite. The
fungus can spread from the lungs to the skin, where it causes a rash and
How do we go about preventing these strains from forming on my marijuana,
seeing as any mold is unwanted?
First, the "fridging" or "freezing" your pot doesn't seem to hold any merit,
as penicillium thrives in these situations *2. As well as these, we know of
the "contact" spread of penicillium which was referrenced above in the
penicillium section from things which can easily get contaminated by it.
There's no surprise here, the MAJOR factor is (ya, you guessed it) moisture.
"Moisture control is the key to mold control. Molds need both food and water
to survive; since molds can digest most things, water is the factor that
limits mold growth." *3.
So you might be wondering how much moisture is too much, and how dry is too
Well, "Living cannabis plants are about 80% water. Perfectly dried marijuana
contains about 10%-15% water or moisture content (MC). Material below 10% MC
becomes too brittle and disintegrates. Fungi cannot grow below 15% MC.
Unfortunately, many growers market their crop _above_ 15% MC." *2.
For people with Aspergillus infected marijuana, it is recommended that one
bakes it for 90 minutes at 400 degrees, as this apparantly does the trick in
removing it *7.
There's also been a lot of theories that "using a waterpipe will filter the
spores out" or something of that sort. That seems to be untrue however, as
"Moody et al. evaluated waterpipes for smoking _Aspergillus_-contaminated
marijuana. Unfortunately, they found only a 5% reduction in transmission of
fungal spores, and contaminates the pipe." *2.
It seems that there are quite a few risks with moldy weed, mostly
respitory/immune problems. And these are actually rather high in their
infection rates, and the most common are the permant allergy/asthma
problems. . As well, the strains most probable to develop on marijuana don't
seem to be of particular deadliness, sometimes, the more rare ones on the
other hand do pose some very serious risks.
Prevention of mold seems to be easiest executed by simply reducing the
moisture level until the weed is below 5% moisture content.. however, since
there's no way to really measure moisture content, i would just go for
I realize quite a few people like to purposelly keep their bud a little
moist, through re-hydration or whatever method. Although it might smoke
better, the chance for contamination is FAR higher than if you dried the bud
out quite well. So it's kind of a gamble i guess.
There doesn't seem to be any way to reduce the amount of spores that you
intake (with the exception of cooking Aspergillus, and perhaps a few
others), as even water bongs don't help much, thus if you're going to be
inhaling a mold you should know WHICH one it is, and any problems that might
be associated with it (or don't take the chance and throw it out).
I realize I used a lot of direct quotes to say what I wanted, to be honost
this is because I'm lazy and the sites said what I wanted to pretty well .
As well, some of the writing might be awkard, and I apologize for that. I
wrote this while a bit stoned. Hopefully it flows well enough to understand
the points I was trying to make. If not please ask and I'll try to clarify.
I hope this will help people with mold problems make educated decisions on
what they have, what they should do, ways to prevent it in the future, etc..
Feel free to comment and/or add something from a reliable study I have
overlooked or left out..
The fungi that affect the deeper layers of skin and internal organs are
capable of causing serious, often fatal illness. Sporotrichosis is an
infection of farmers, horticulturists, and others who come into contact with
plants or mud. The disease affects the skin and lymphatic system and, in
rare cases, becomes disseminated. Blastomycosis is caused by a yeastlike
fungus that reproduces by budding. The North American variety, caused by
Blastomycosis dermatitidis, occurs more often in men and seems to be limited
to the central and E United States and Canada. Wartlike lesions appear most
often on the skin, sometimes spreading to the bones and other organs. The
South American variety of blastomycosis is caused by B. brasiliensis.
Chytridiomycosis, caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, is a deadly
fungal skin infection in amphibians, which it kills by damaging to the
animals' normally permeable skin, thus disrupting the transport of air and
Among the fungi that infect the deeper tissues is Coccidioides immitis,
which causes coccidioidomycosis, sometimes called valley fever, a lung
infection that is prevalent in the SW United States. Cryptococcosis is
another fungus disease that may be localized in the lung or disseminated,
especially to the central nervous system. It has a worldwide distribution,
affecting men twice as often as women. The causative agent (Cryptococcus
neoformans) has been isolated in pigeon excretions. Histoplasmosis, which is
caused by spores of the fungal genus Histoplasma, is a severe infection that
shows varied symptoms. In acute cases ulcers of the pharynx and enlargement
of the liver and spleen are present. In other forms tubercularlike lesions
of the lung occur. In its benign form no symptoms may be present.
Fungal infections sometimes follow the use of antibiotics, which kill
nonpathogenic as well as pathogenic bacteria, thereby providing a free field
in the body for fungal invasion. Opportunistic fungal infection occurs when
a fungus enters a compromised host,