Dangers of Microbials
The presence of pesticide residues, mold, or other pathogens on cannabis products is widespread and is one of the dirty secrets of both the legal and illegal industries. While some states that have approved the plant for medical and/or recreational use require strict testing for microbials such as petrochemicals or mildew, many do not - and there certainly isn’t a testing system for the black market. This is putting the consumer in harm’s way with most not even knowing there could be something dangerous in what they are smoking, vaping, or eating.
The Most Common Pesticides in Cannabis
Spraying marijuana plants with chemical pesticides and fungicides is a practice that is sadly widespread, with images of cultivators in hazmat suits emerging to the shock and horror of many. Prolonged exposure to these petrochemicals can lead to a litany of health issues, such as asthma, nervous system dysfunction, hormonal imbalances, skin irritation, and even cancer. According to The Cannabist, some of the most commonly used pesticides in cannabis include:
Myclobutanil (fungicide) - Considered “slightly hazardous” by the World Health Organization (WHO), a “Bad Actor” by the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and its own label warns of nervous system problems and toxic fumes.
Imidacloprid (insecticide) - Considered “moderately hazardous” by the WHO, and the National Pesticide Information Center says it’s moderately toxic if ingested or inhaled.
Abamectin (insecticide) - PAN lists it as a “Bad Actor,” and product labels say it’s “harmful if inhaled.”
Moldy Marijuana - a Serious Issue
Cannabis plants run the risk of developing mold and mildew throughout the supply chain, from the clone stage to dispensary shelf storage. Much like the pesticide problem, the lack of testing regulations in the US has led to the potential that pot containing mold microbials can and does reach the market. In fact, news recently broke that a California woman contracted a severe meningitis infection - from ingesting moldy cannabis flower that she had purchased from a local dispensary. The 48-year-old, a resident of Bakersfield, fell ill due to exposure to a fungus called cryptococcus. Meningitis is a potentially fatal condition and causes inflammation of the spinal cord and brain.
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