Mold is never a welcome sight. Not in bread or cheese, and certainly not in your cannabis. Moldy weed is not only disgusting, it’s dangerous. Consuming mold-infested weed can have some serious adverse effects. But how do you know if your bud’s been infected?
Nearly every legal state has some sort of microbial lab testing requirement for regulated cannabis sales. These tests check for mold and mildew in batches of marijuana. However, even legal markets have seen their share of moldy cannabis over the years.
Read on to learn how to identify and avoid buying moldy weed and how to store weed so it doesn’t get moldy.
What is mold?
Mold is a catchall term for fungus that reproduces via lightweight, airborne spores. Humans inhale or ingest minuscule amounts of mold every day. It is typically harmless in small quantities since a healthy immune system can successfully prevent any damage.
Mold found on marijuana buds, or flower, is the same kind that grows on other plants. Botrytis (responsible for bud rot), Mucor, Cladosporium, Rhizopus, and Penicillium (the mold responsible for penicillin) are the most common. Mold thrives in humid or moist environments that lack proper air ventilation.
In cannabis mold most often develops when the bud isn’t dried correctly, though it can form in earlier stages of cultivation, such as in a too-humid grow room. Improperly dried weed stored in an airtight container for curing creates an ideal breeding ground for mold.
Mold spores are tricky to eliminate. They can survive the intense heat of a lighter when smoking a hit and they don’t burn off in the oven when weed is decarbed. Some molds produce mycotoxins too, which can be carcinogenic.
What to look for
Moldy cannabis usually has a grayish-white coating. If you’re not a seasoned consumer or grower, though, it can be easy to mistake trichomes for mold and vice versa.
Trichomes are those sticky, shiny crystals on the leaves and buds that give cannabis its aroma.
Unlike trichomes, which look like little hairs that almost appear to glitter, mold has a gray or white powdery appearance.
Mold also has a distinct odor to it, so your nose may notice the mold before your eyes do. Moldy weed usually has a musty or mildewy smell, or it may smell kind of like hay.
Is it safe to smoke it?
It probably won’t kill you, but it’s still not recommended.
In healthy people, smoking moldy weed isn’t likely to have a detrimental impact on your health — barring the general risks of smoking, of course.
If you smoke moldy weed, you might experience symptoms like coughing, nausea, and vomiting, which are more unpleasant than dangerous.
But if you’re allergic to mold, you could end up with inflammation of your sinuses or lungs and symptoms like:
- sinus pain
In people with weakened immune systems or lung conditions, inhaling smoke from weed that contains certain mold species can have serious health consequences.
Fungi like Aspergillus, Mucor, and Cryptococcus can cause serious and even deadly infections in the lungs, central nervous system (CNS), and the brain in people with compromised immune systems.
A UC Davis study found these and other types of potentially harmful fungi on cannabis samples bought from dispensaries and growers in Northern California.
Why Mold is Bad
Mold isn’t exactly a houseguest you invite over with promises of home cooked meals and superfast Wi-Fi. While some molds are harmless, other types are dangerous. If left alone in a residence, it’s possible for the more troublesome types to cause a respiratory response in those who live there. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, and sore throat that persists even after a tumbler of Nyquil.
Moldy weed is also dangerous for pot smokers.
Sometimes, people mistake rotten weed for weed that’s laced with other drugs, such as opium
They may experience headaches, vomiting, trouble breathing, diarrhea, and heart palpitations. Pneumonia is also a possibility.
The Causes of Mold
The number one thing conducive to moldy weed is moisture: this is why you’re more likely to find it in your shower than in your wine cellar. A lack of air circulation also helps it thrive, as spores multiply under tight conditions. In grow rooms, fans mitigate this type of welcoming environment, leaving mold less likely to move in and get comfortable. But that doesn’t make your plants immune entirely.
Temperature is important too, as mold can’t flourish in cold conditions (under 40 degrees) or those that are extremely hot (over 100 degrees)
Pot shops in dry climates are typically less affected than those located in areas wet and humid: you might be Sleepless in Seattle because you’ve been up all night drying off your herb.
Like us, mold needs food and oxygen in order to survive. It decomposes things such as gypsum board and oak and feeds on those nutrients. While it can’t grow on inorganic material – concrete, for example – it feeds on the dirt and dust concrete harbors. And, of course, it feeds on your marijuana plants. Belly up to the bar, weed is among its favorite meals.
What is one of the worst things that can happen if I smoke Moldy Weed?
If you smoke moldy weed the spores can settle into your lungs and grow large mold balls, which are hard to get rid of and sometimes have to be removed surgically.
How can I tell mold from Trichomes?
When you look for mold, don’t be smoking too much Weed? If you get paranoid though, just pop a few peppercorns. None other than Neil Young, at age 65 learned how to chill out better with Pot. If you look closely at the buds, the trichomes can be very dense and resemble mold to the untrained eye. If it powdery or crystal like it’s not mold. If it looks like cotton candy like and furry, its mold.
Can I cut off the moldy area and smoke the rest?
No, throw it away. Do not pass go. Don’t smoke it. Don’t’ make edibles with it, don’t make hash oil
Can I use Fungicides to Protect my Medical Marijuana?
A fungicide, by definition is anything that kills fungi. A fungicide can be a synthetic chemical or an organic natural substance. Spraying your plants with thyme or various kinds of terpenes have worked for some organic conscious growers. Just put your organic anti-fungal extract in a hand held pump and off you go.