PSA: Dangerous Fungus May Be an Uninvited Guest at Your 4/20 Celebration This Year

Dangerous Fungus May Be an Uninvited Guest at Your 4/20 Celebration This Year

Every party has a pooper, and that's why you're reading this article. We don't mean to be a downer on such a fun day as 4/20, but it's important to make sure you know about the source of your pot, especially if you're one of the 2,299,016 people who use medical marijuana in the US.

The icky pathogens that can reside in marijuana could become potentially life-threatening when smoked. One example was a California cancer patient using medicinal marijuana to alleviate his pain, who likely died of an infection caused by a fungus or bacteria festering within the 'medication.' One of the fungi often found in medical marijuana, Mucor, can cause mucormycosis, which is highly lethal for those with a compromised immune system such as cancer patients. The infection occurs when mold spores are inhaled, which is exactly what is happening with the contaminated medicinal marijuana.

This problem is caused by the lack of standards the government employs on pot farmers in growing marijuana; so it's not just a problem with your local dispensary. The only federal agency that is authorized to obtain cannabis for research, the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), has mold in their pot supply, as found in January by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.

This is quite problematic, considering that the agency's farm in Mississippi is the only pot farm used for testing. There is no backup supply. They are currently working with the Food and Drug Administration to develop "analyses and specifications appropriate for NIDA-supplied marijuana," as currently there are "no universally accepted standard for levels of mold and yeast."

There are also complications outside of death for medical marijuana users. Garry Godney is a Maine resident who suffers from a hereditary disease that causes kidney failure. He had been on the kidney transplant wait list for years when he was suddenly deemed "ineligible" in 2012. The Maine Medical Center bumped Godney off the list after deciding his use of marijuana made Godney's risk of a fungal infection too high. As someone who is only able to function because of the pain alleviation marijuana supplies, Godney sees this as a choice between "lifesaving medicine" and a "lifesaving organ transplant." Currently, a bill dealing with this issue is being discussed by the state's legislature.

With marijuana rapidly becoming legal in more places in the US, it's clear some sort of standards for pot farms is necessary.

What's a quick solution for your party today to avoid any dangerous bacteria and fungus? Try some baked goods. The temperature they must be baked at will most likely kill any of the dangerous pathogens. Happy 420! Have fun and be safe.

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Cover image by Marc St. Gil/Environmental Protection Agency

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