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Study Finds Medical Marijuana Samples to be Contaminated with Mold and Bacteria

A new study has found some medical marijuana in Northern California to be contaminated by bacteria and fungi. The findings reinforce the importance of growing cannabis without pesticides and rigorous testing procedures, both of which are practices followed by Medical Marijuana, Inc.

Physician researchers from University of California, Davis, have found dangerous bacterial and fungal pathogens on medical marijuana in a new study. The team of researchers, led by associate professor of clinical medicine at UC Davis George Thompson III, analyzed 20 marijuana samples obtained from Northern California dispensaries for the presence of bacteria and fungi.

The researchers found that 90 percent of the samples had some sort of bacteria or fungi. A diversity of microorganisms was found, including Crypotococcus, Mucor, and Aspergillus fungi and Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pnemoniae and Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria. Many of the microorganisms are implicated in serious lung infections.

The UC Davis researchers examined the marijuana after a California man using the substance for treatment of his cancer died from a relatively rare fungal infection.

“It all started with a couple patients that were undergoing very intensive chemotherapy and a stem cell therapy, and those patients were very immune compromised,” study co-author Dr. Joseph Tuscano of the UC Davis Cancer Center told CBS.

“We thought it was strange to have cases of such a bad fungal disease in such a short amount of time,” said lead author and fungal infection expert Thompson. “What struck me is both of these gentlemen were at least medicinal marijuana users, that helped them with nausea and appetite issues that come with the treatment.”

U.S. Marijuana Laws

In 28 U.S. states, including California, medical marijuana can be recommended by doctors to help manage symptoms associated with treatments for cancer and AIDS, such as nausea, pain, and a lack of appetite. Because marijuana remains a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, however, the quality and safety standards of marijuana are not federally regulated. According to CBS News, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Colorado and Nevada have either set limits on or banned certain pesticides for use on marijuana.

Based on the study’s findings, the UC Davis researchers recommended that for now those with leukemia, lymphoma, AIDS or conditions requiring immune-suppressing therapies refrain from smoking, vaping, or inhaling aerosolized marijuana. They believe that edibles may be a safer option, as the high temperatures involved in cooking would likely destroy the microorganisms.

“Patients with impaired immune systems are routinely advised to avoid exposure to plants and certain raw foods because of the risk of infection from soil-dwelling organisms,” said Thompson. “But at the same time, they are increasingly turning to medical marijuana to help them with symptom control. Because microorganisms known to cause infections in immunocompromised patients were found to be common on marijuana, we strongly advise patients to avoid it.”

The findings also reiterate the need for stringent testing procedures, Colorado cannabis industry attorney Sean McAllister told Marijuana Business Daily.

“[Cannabis businesses] need to be taking measures to make sure their products aren’t contaminated, so people don’t get harmed,” McAllister said. “If they don’t do that, you’re going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers to defend a product liability case all the way to trial.”

Medical Marijuana, Inc.’s CBD hemp oil is derived from hemp that is grown without the use of any pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers. The hemp is tested numerous times throughout the growing season to check for contaminants. Once the CBD hemp oil is extracted, it undergoes our rigorous Triple Lab TestingTM process to ensure that it’s free of solvents, heavy metals or any other potentially harmful materials. We detailed our strict quality standards and testing procedures here.

You can read the entire study, “A microbiome assessment of medical marijuana,” via Science Direct.

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Post by Eve Ripley

Eve is a writer specializing in cannabis education and editorials related to cannabis industry news.

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