Sunday August 23, 2020
By Paul Barach
You’re out on the other side of town running some errands and realize that you might as well pick up some more weed while you’re at it. You pull into the parking lot, readjust your mask and enter the nearest dispensary prepared to follow whatever rules they have posted to keep everyone safe. From the moment you enter, you don’t get a great feeling from this pot shop. The display cases are sparse, the floor is dirty, and you’re greeted with indifferent stares from the staff. You already miss your local budtender. However, you’re already here, the prices are similar, and they’ve got your favorite strains listed on their menu. You pick out your strains, pay up at the counter, and walk out the door rubbing the sanitizer into your hands.
Once you get home, you pull out your weed and see...something. You can’t quite place what’s wrong with it, but this weed looks a little off. The bud has some fuzzy spots and discolorations where it should be deep green. Is this mold? Is it a dense patch of trichomes?
If you’re unsure how to spot moldy weed, you’re not alone. Plenty of consumers have run into the same issues when purchasing weed from less than reputable dispensaries. Or sometimes from honest shops purchasing from less-than-reputable growers. However, if you’re not sure how to tell whether or not your weed has gone bad, don’t worry. PotGuide is here to guide you on the easiest ways to recognize moldy weed.
What Mold Grows on Cannabis?
Cannabis, like any other plant, can become a host for organisms like mold or mildew if they’re grown in the conditions that these fungi like best. Humid or moist environments are where cannabis molds like Botrytis, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Rhizopus, Mucor, and Penicillium thrive.
If your weed is moldy, it means that it was grown in a place without proper air ventilation or humidity control. Or it could also mean that the producer didn’t dry and cure it correctly after harvesting.
Is Mold on Cannabis Bad For You?
Mold is not good for you to inhale, and definitely not good for you to smoke. There are many different kinds of cannabis molds out there, but any one of them can be extremely dangerous. While mold on cannabis probably won’t kill anyone with a healthy immune system, it can lead to coughing, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and other serious conditions like aspergilloma. Even more, if you have allergies to mold, you could end up with inflamed sinuses, congestion, wheezing, or a sore throat from bad weed.
Things get much more dangerous if your immune system is compromised or your lungs are damaged, as smoking moldy weed can cause a bunch of serious health issues.
Once inhaled, the mold can take up residence in your lungs and start growing. This can cause serious lung infections that may require hospitalization. Worse, once it enters into your bloodstream it can spread throughout your central nervous system. This is, of course, a worst-case scenario, but still should be avoided if at all possible. Serious home growers have to be very wary of mold for this reason. Many of them are growing either to treat themselves or someone else with a medical issue that could compromise their immune system.
Isn’t All Cannabis Tested For Mold?
While growing weed yourself could put you at risk of having mold on your plants due to an amateur set up, isn’t the weed you bought at the store lab tested for mold, pesticides, and other contaminants? After all, that’s part of the information you’ll find on any cannabis label. First off, it should be said that most growers are honest and work incredibly hard to create a safe, healthy product. If they find mold on their harvest, they’ll take the loss and destroy all the contaminated product before getting the lab involved.
However, some less-than-scrupulous growers will instead pick the best buds out of that batch and send those non-contaminated samples over to the lab. The employees at the lab will have no idea they’re being tricked since the lab is not on-site at the grow. They also don’t have the budget to send anyone out to get their own samples at the grow to test. The sample bud will register as passing the test, the lab will give the ok, and then the grower can start selling to unsuspecting or similarly dicey dispensaries.
How to Spot Mold on Weed
Mold can be hard to spot unless you know what you’re looking for, but there are some pretty obvious signs of mold that will stand out. Make sure you have good lighting when you inspect your buds.
One type of mold, called powdery mildew, will appear as a grayish-white coating on the bud. This can easily be mistaken for the sugary trichomes, so you’ll want to take an even closer look in the light. Trichome crystals have a glittery appearance, whereas this mold will look gray or white and powdery. It’s also been compared to sawdust or tiny spider webs. Mold might also show up as a yellow or gray fuzz in the creases of the bud.
If you notice dark spots on what is otherwise solid green bud, that is another recognizable sign of mold.
Your nose may recognize mold even before your eyes do, so it’s always worth checking if your weed smells off. Contaminated weed will have that distinctive musty, mildewy smell like you’d find in a damp basement or beneath your sink. It could also smell like hay, sweat, or even urine.
If you are buying from your regular dispensary that you trust, your weed should always be good. The dispensary will have a solid relationship with their growers and everything will be on the up and up. Even if you’re buying at a new place, mold probably won’t be a problem. However, if you do notice anything strange about your weed at a glance, or it smells off, be sure to take a closer look before you light up. And if you find yourself coughing more than usual, feeling tight in your chest, or have a headache afterward, throw that bud out. Life’s too short for bad weed.
Do you have any tips for spotting moldy bud? Share them in the comments below.