Your Health Matters: Effective Ways to Check Your Medical Cannabis for Mould
by Rowan Bailey
Effective Ways to Check Your Medical Cannabis for Mould
The Importance of Medical Cannabis Quality
As a medical cannabis user, you want to ensure that what you are consuming is safe. After all, we're using it for our health right? When it comes down to vaping, the added risks with that are mitigated by the relief that we receive. With available studies, it's a measured risk that with the correct dry herb cleaning habits can remain relatively safe, particularly when compared to combustion. However, there is an entirely different risk that many in cannabis wouldn't be aware of before, and thats mouldy cannabis flos/ flower.
You may never have asked yourself, "Is my medical cannabis mouldy?" as you might not have known that it's a thing to look out for. It goes without saying that the quality of your cannabis is of utmost importance. The effectiveness of your medical treatment depends on the purity and integrity of the cannabis you use.
Just like any other plant, cannabis can be subject to mould growth under certain conditions. Mould can compromise the quality and safety of your medical cannabis, affecting its therapeutic benefits and potentially posing health risks.
On many forums online you will rightly see patients being frustrated and angry about this happening, but it's important to know why it's happening more often here and how to ensure you're not exposing yourself to it. When consuming 'Black Market' cannabis products, they are often consumed quite efficiently from curing, very rarely ever being sealed off in an air tight container and shipped around multiple countries as inventory with fluctuating temperatures and other things that are high risk even for standard food safety procedures. Due to the supply chain still being new and under strain in the UK, it has lead to some batches showing mould. Notably this has been seen from various suppliers, and we would hope with time and a broader selection of products/ producers in the UK that this will be all but eliminated. However for now, we wanted to provide some info on what we know, how to look out for it, and what to do if you find yourself with a contaminated batch!
This blog post aims to guide you on how to identify mould on your medical cannabis and what steps to take if you come across it.
Understanding What Mouldy Cannabis Is
Mouldy cannabis is a problem faced by cannabis users and growers alike. But what does mouldy weed look like? It's essential to understand the appearance and characteristics of mould to identify it accurately.
Mould is a type of fungus that grows in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae. On cannabis, it appears as a fuzzy, powdery, or web-like substance that can be white, grey, blue-green, or even black. For medical cannabis patients who aren't familiar with the flower, it can be hard to distinguish the regular 'hairs' and 'trichomes' from things that aren't supposed to be there as it can all look so 'alien'. Having said that, anything that looks powdery or like webs is generally a sign that it's mould.
Mouldy cannabis has a musty, stale, or unpleasant smell, quite different from the fresh, herbal, or slightly sweet aroma of healthy cannabis. It also has a different texture, often damp or slimy to touch, unlike the dry and crisp feel of good-quality cannabis. The issue here that can cause issues within the medical cannabis community is that, let's be honest, a lot of the medical cannabis smells pretty flat and stale when it first arrives! So it can be hard to tell whether this is from being sealed in the plastic containers for a prolonged amount of time, or whether it's due to contamination. So this isn't necessarily a good measure for us medical patients. So visual inspection is best in our opinion, and this can be done with the naked eye, although a jewellers loupe makes a useful and fascinating purchase to get up close and personal with your buds!
The Dangers of Using Mouldy Medical Cannabis
Using mouldy medical cannabis can have harmful effects on your health. The mould produces toxic compounds called mycotoxins, which can cause various health problems when inhaled, ingested, or come into contact with the skin.
Symptoms of exposure to mycotoxins include allergic reactions, respiratory issues like coughing and wheezing, nausea, vomiting, and in severe cases, neurological problems and immunosuppression.
People with compromised immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or those with HIV/AIDS, are particularly at risk. Therefore, it's crucial to ensure your medical cannabis is mould-free to protect your health and the effectiveness of your treatment.
This is one of the instances where using a dry herb vaporiser could in fact be worse that combustion (Not that i'm advocating for 'misusing your prescription'!). For example if you loaded your chamber ahead of a trip out where you were planning to use it, any spores or bacteria from that mould could travel inside your cooling unit. If it travels far enough, that may reach a point that doesn't get hot enough to kill off harmful bacteria, in turn meaning you could be inhaling some nasties as a result when you next use it. This is why it's also so important to regularly take apart your vaporiser for cleaning and maintenance!
How to Identify Mouldy Weed: What Does Mouldy Medical Cannabis Look Like?
The first step in identifying mould on weed is by sight. Mouldy weed often has a powdery or fuzzy texture and can come in colours ranging from white and grey to blue-green and black. As cannabis flos/ flower can have a broad range of colours from browns to greens to purples it can be hard to tell what's what. For example on a recent batch of La Kush Cake that I received it from a glance it had some very dark black spots which made me concerned about mould. However upon further inspection they were particularly dark purple tones in a tiny leaf. Texture is the biggest indicator for me initially when checking for mould, so by looking close it was clear that this wasn't powdery, webbed and in fact the smooth surface from a leaf.
You can use a magnifying glass or Jewellers loupe for closer inspection. If you notice any unusual spots or discolouration, it could be a sign of mould.
However, sometimes mould is not visible to the naked eye, especially in the early stages of growth. This is where smell comes into play. Mouldy cannabis often has a musty or stale smell, unlike the fresh and herbal aroma of healthy cannabis. In order to distinguish this from the stale smell that medical often has upon initial opening we would advise leaving the lid off for a little bit and airing it out, using a boveda pack to help cure it and revisit to get a more accurate scent.
Pictures of Mouldy Weed for Better Identification
To better identify mould on cannabis, you can refer to pictures of mouldy medical cannabis available online or in cannabis cultivation guides. We recommend checking out these results on the UKMedicalCannabis reddit as it will show you a wide range of examples of what mould can look like and the various batches that have had issues in the past. You can stay up to date with those HERE.
Here's an example of some black mould found by user u/Subtifuge (Please reach out for a free bottle of our CBD Drops as a thanks for helping others identify such moulds!)
These pictures can provide you with a visual reference of what mould looks like on cannabis, helping you spot any signs of mould in your own supply. It's important to note that the example pictured above is what black mould looks like, and therefor other moulds look different so it's important to note that mould can take various forms and colours, so it's good to familiarise yourself with as many images as possible.
Remember, if you're in doubt, it's always safer to discard the questionable cannabis. It's not worth risking your health by consuming potentially mouldy cannabis and contact your pharmacy to inform them. They may well request it to do their own tests and trace it back to do a product recall to protect other patients too. As frustrating as it that this is even an issue, it's a fact that no one wants this happening, so the sooner we can trace back where these issues are arising, the sooner supply chains can adapt and be more preventative. We all have to work together!
Bud Rot Under Microscope: Advanced Stages of Mould
Bud rot is a common type of mould that affects cannabis. It typically starts in the bud's dense core and spreads outward, making it hard to detect in the early stages. So when checking for mould or generally using your medical cannabis flower, it's worth breaking up your nugs to check inside. If you see any darker areas, then it may be worth further investigation.
Under a microscope, bud rot appears as a grey or brownish mould that can quickly turn your bud into a slimy, gooey mess. In advanced stages, it can cause the bud to disintegrate, leaving behind a powdery residue.
If you're a regular medical cannabis flos user, investing in a basic microscope can be a useful tool to inspect your cannabis for any signs of mould. A simple £10 loupe like this is all you need to get started and considering how it can help protect your health, it is worth every penny! Plus it may help you confirm a batch isn't mould saving you from having to throw it out!
White Mould on Buds After Harvest: Precautions and Observations
White mould on buds after harvest is another common issue. This type of mould appears as a white, powdery substance on the surface of the buds. For medical cannabis, mould from this source is very unlikely to get to our doors as our Cannabis Flos should be put through activity level testing to screen issues like this out if somehow it was missed during curing.
To prevent white mould, it's important to make sure to properly dry and cure your buds after harvest. Store your cannabis in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.
If you notice white mould, contact your pharmacy as soon as possible with the batch number at the ready. Consuming mouldy cannabis can have adverse health effects, so it's better to be safe than sorry and will mean that they can contact other patients who have been provided the same batch!
Is My Cannabis Flos Mouldy: Early Stage Powdery Mildew on Dried Buds
Early stage powdery mildew on dried buds can be hard to spot. It often starts as tiny white spots that can easily be mistaken for trichomes, the tiny, crystal-like structures on cannabis buds.
However, unlike trichomes, powdery mildew will spread across the surface of the bud, forming a whitish coating. It also has a chalky texture, unlike the sticky feel of trichomes. If you have a magnifying glass trichomes look like tiny small mushrooms with a balled tip to the end, where as mould like this is more like a chalky coating.
If you suspect your cannabis flos is mouldy, it's best to discard it and clean your storage area/ grinder if it touched it to prevent further contamination. Contact your pharmacy with your batch number ready.
Mouldy Weed vs Trichomes: Clearing the Confusion
It can be challenging to tell the difference between mouldy medical cannabis and trichomes, especially for novice users who are new to cannabis flos. Trichomes are tiny, crystal-like structures that cover the cannabis bud. They contain the cannabinoids and terpenes that give cannabis its therapeutic benefits and distinctive smell and taste.
On the other hand, mould is a type of fungus that can grow on cannabis under certain conditions. Unlike trichomes, mould can appear in various forms and colours, from white and grey to blue-green and black.
One key difference is the texture. Trichomes are sticky to touch, while mould has a fuzzy, powdery, or slimy feel. Also, mould often has a musty or stale smell, unlike the fresh and herbal aroma of healthy cannabis.
Can cannabis go Mouldy? Conditions That Promote Mould Growth
Yes, weed can get mouldy. Mould thrives in conditions of high humidity and poor ventilation, so it's important to store your cannabis properly to prevent mould growth. Unfortunately it has also been an issue with the way medical cannabis has been stored, transported and screened due to the supply chain in the UK. This has meant that some batches had issues with mould that could have been avoided.
Once received and checked over we recommend that you store your cannabis in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. Use a glass airtight containers to protect your medical cannabis from moisture and contaminants and ensure to keep it out of sunlight (Helps going for a coloured glass jar). Combing this with a Boveda pack to ensure an even cure and waken the terpenes a little goes a long way after a couple of days! Remember you still need to keep the original packaging with the attached prescription on for validity. It's worth inspection each nug as you go to grind it ready for us just be safe.
Remember, mould can develop at any stage, from cultivation to storage. Regularly inspect your cannabis for any signs of mould and take immediate action if you spot any.
How to Tell If Your Medical Cannabis Flower Is Mouldy: Practical Tips
Here are some practical tips on how to tell if your medical cannabis flower is mouldy:
- Visual Inspection: Look for any unusual spots or discolouration. Use a suitable magnifying glass for closer inspection.
- Smell: Mouldy cannabis often has a musty or stale smell, unlike the fresh and herbal aroma of healthy cannabis (Though be aware often medical can arrive a little stale in the plastic pots and may need a day to adjust).
- Texture: Healthy cannabis is dry and crisp to touch, while mouldy weed often feels damp or slimy.
- Taste: If you notice a harsh or unpleasant taste when smoking or vaping, it could be a sign of mould.
If you're in doubt, it's always safer to discard the questionable cannabis. Remember, your health matters, and it's not worth risking it by consuming potentially mouldy weed.
Black Mould on Weed: What It Means and How to Avoid It
Black mould on weed is a serious issue. It produces toxic compounds that can harm your health, especially if you have a weakened immune system.
Black mould appears as dark spots or patches on the cannabis bud. It often has a slimy texture and an unpleasant smell.
To avoid black mould, store your cannabis properly in a cool, dry place. Use airtight containers to protect your cannabis from moisture and contaminants. Regularly inspect your cannabis for any signs of mould and take immediate action if you spot any.
Conclusion: Your Health Matters - Ensuring the Quality of Your Medical Cannabis
Your health matters, and so does the quality of your medical cannabis. Mould can compromise the safety and effectiveness of your medical cannabis, posing potential health risks.
Therefore, it's crucial to regularly inspect your cannabis for any signs of mould. Learn to identify mould by its appearance, smell, and texture. Use tools like a magnifying glass or microscope for closer inspection, and refer to pictures of mouldy weed for visual reference.
If you suspect your cannabis is mouldy, it's always safer to discard it. Remember, your health is of utmost importance, and it's not worth risking it by consuming potentially mouldy weed. Stay safe and healthy, and ensure the quality of your medical cannabis.