A cautious look at a fugitive fungus potentially lurking in your cannabis crop.
Imagine being a loaf of bread. You started out as a vague mixture of a few baking ingredients. You were smushed, mashed, and twisted into a mixture that was left to overheat and bloat. Then, your evil overlords bashed you into a table and stuffed you into a tin. Without pity, they placed you in a slow cooker, the kind of slow cooker a frog wouldn’t think to escape until its heart melted. As your insides solidified and your edges became crispy, a horrid bell would go off. Left out to cool, you find relief until you’re flipped over and repeatedly sectioned with a serrated blade. Sardonically folded back together, you’re stuffed in a bag and thrown into a pantry with other doomed foods. Knowing the worst is over, you wait patiently, once, a child throws you behind a box of cereal. You’re forgotten about and the worst truly sets in. Time passes, you feel yourself being slowly consumed by microbial attackers. Molds, mildews, and fungi dissolve your body until someone finally finds you, scoffs at how gross you are, and throws you in a bin. You’re a filthy bag of bread.
The visceral reaction one would feel at the gross, dead bread in their pantry is the same feeling growers get when they discover Aspergillus in their crop.
It’s even worse when they don’t discover it, however. This genus of a couple of hundred different mold species can be problematic when smoked. According to a paper from 2011, smoking Aspergillus varieties sometimes found in cannabis can lead to the creation of bullae—what you might consider to be a blister in the lungs.  This can lead to a pneumothorax, air that penetrates the space between your ribcage and your lungs, which could potentially cause the lung to a collapse.
The researchers noted that “the association is so strong that some now recommend that patients presenting with a spontaneous pneumothorax should be directly questioned about [cannabis] smoking.”
While the study only looked at a few patients, they said that “these cases highlight yet another potential risk associated with smoking [cannabis].” One that, even though rare, growers should be testing for. Awareness in the industry is what breeds good standards and ensures patient health.
Sadly, the cases that the study looked at were from people who were using cannabis for medicinal purposes. It’s a stark reminder that the industry needs to continuously up its testing game.
Either that or slowly erode under the weight of fungal marketplace invaders.
- Gargani, Yousef et al. “Too many mouldy joints – marijuana and chronic pulmonary aspergillosis.” Mediterranean journal of hematology and infectious diseases. 2011. vol. 3,1. [Times cited = 41; Journal Impact Factor = 1.183]