Moldy Weed: How Mold Can Destroy Your Cannabis

Consuming moldy weed can be dangerous so you should know how to tell if your weed’s gone bad. Mold cannot only destroy cannabis but also pose a danger to your health.

Moldy Weed: The Highlights

  • Mold is a type of fungus that can grow on food and plants.
  • Mold requires moisture to grow and is usually found in warm, damp conditions with poor air circulation.
  • Moldy weed is identified by powdery or fuzz-like growth and may also have a strong odor.
  • It is typically caused by improper growing and storage that exposes marijuana to high moisture content.
  • It is not a good idea to smoke moldy weed because it poses health risks.

Moldy Weed: A Gross and Dangerous Destruction of Marijuana

Mold, also known as mildew, is a type of fungus that’s found virtually anywhere where there’s moisture. Most of us have seen mold show up on bread or fruit, signaling that it’s probably time to throw the food away.

You may have even seen mold invade the damp environment of your bathroom. But did you know mold can grow on marijuana as well? In fact, moldy weed is the scourge of weed growers and consumers alike.

Moldy weed is marijuana that’s been invaded by a fungus. It can strike both during and after the cannabis growing process.

Although moldy weed is unlikely to happen if the herb is grown and stored properly, there have been some recent news about moldy medical cannabis products. As such, you should keep a keen eye on your bud to make sure it is mold-free.

There are many different types of mold, but the two main ones affecting cannabis are white powdery mildew, which presents as a layer of white powder, and botrytis (bud rot), which is characterized by moldy growth around the buds.

How to Tell If Your Weed is Moldy

Thankfully, moldy weed usually presents with visible signs. Although it may not be as obvious as the white growth on a loaf of bread that’s been sitting on your counter for too long, there are several signs that your weed has gone moldy.

What It Looks Like

Weed with mold

Without a doubt, the telltale sign of moldy weed is visible fungal growth on the buds and other parts of the plant. This growth is usually white, gray, black, yellow, blue, or brown in color, and has the appearance of a fuzzy, powdery, or web-like substance.

Similar to the mold you’d find on foods, fungus on marijuana can range in severity from small discolored spots to large clumps that are hard to miss.

Having said that, moldy weed will not always have visible growth, since it takes time for the tiny mold spores to grow. Because of this, the optimal way to check for mold is to use a black light.

What It Smells Like

Another reliable sign that your buds have gone bad is the smell. Although it is normal for high-quality marijuana to have a musky odor, if it has an especially strong smell then it may contain mold.

Another common smell associated with moldy weed is a sweet scent similar to freshly-cut grass. One advantage of the smell test is that you may be able to detect bad weed before the mold spores grow large enough to be seen with the naked eye.

Causes of Moldy Weed

Although fungal spores are present all around us, they can only grow into visible mold under the right conditions. The most common cause of moldy weed is exposure to a warm, damp, environment with poor air circulation and high humidity.

Such an environment can occur both indoors and outdoors. And far from only affecting the growing plant, mold can also invade harvested herb that’s been improperly handled and stored. In addition, you may be surprised to hear that different strains of cannabis have varying levels of resistance to mold.

Introduction of Moisture

The chief cause of moldy weed – and any type of mold for that matter – is a moist environment. This is the reason why mold is a major concern for cannabis crop growers in wet, humid places such as Hawaii, which receives a whopping 275 days of rain every year.

Thankfully, the cannabis industry has developed multiple ways to keep your cannabis just dry enough to prevent mold, such as precise humidity control.

Strain of Weed

Although all marijuana comes from the same Cannabis sativa plant, there are hundreds of different strains. These strains differ in the amount of THC and other cannabinoids and terpenes they contain, resulting in different effects, aromas, flavors, and other characteristics.

More importantly, some strains of weed have increased resistance to mold, making them an excellent choice for concerned growers and consumers. Popular mold-resistant strains include satori, pineapple express, and hashberry, but there are many more.

If you are concerned about mold, you should do some research on your particular strain of cannabis.

Storage of Weed

Weed in glass containers

As you may recall, the ideal environment for mold to form is where there is the presence of moisture without good air flow.

As such, one of the most common causes of moldy weed is the storage of wet cannabis material in sealed containers, especially if they are exposed to warm temperatures. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance that your weed is stored properly in a cool, dark, dry place.

Introduction of Fungus or Bacteria from Other Sources

We know that fungus spreads through tiny mold spores present in the air and soil. Because of this, it is possible for mold and mildew to spread to your cannabis from other plants and sources. Knowing this, it is important for growers to immediately dispose of any mold before it can spread.

How to Avoid Getting Moldy Weed

The number one way to avoid moldy weed is to store cannabis in a relatively cool environment with low humidity. In most cases, this means storing your dry herb in an airtight container like a glass jar.

On the other hand, when cannabis is still growing, humidity needs to be tightly controlled to be low enough to prevent mold but high enough to make sure plant growth is optimal.

Can I Smoke Moldy Weed?

If you do come across moldy weed, you may have a temptation to smoke it anyway, especially if the mold growth looks small.

We strongly recommend against smoking moldy weed. Although everyone responds to mold differently, it’s simply not worth the health risk.

What Happens If I Smoke Moldy Weed?

As noted above, smoking moldy weed is not a good idea. Like other sources of mold, moldy weed can cause health issues ranging from simple coughing to serious infections.

Although it is unlikely to have a large effect on most healthy individuals, people with weakened immune systems – such as those suffering from cancer – can develop fungal lung infections and other serious conditions.

For this reason, people taking medical marijuana for leukemia and other serious health conditions should take extra caution to make sure it is free of mold.

Symptoms from Smoking Moldy Weed

cartoon of man coughing

Not every person will present with symptoms from smoking moldy weed because everyone’s immune systems respond to mold differently. Having said that, the most common symptom of consuming moldy weed is chest pain.

This pain is caused by mold mycotoxins entering your lungs and causing inflammation. Other possible symptoms include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, itchy throat, runny nose, headache, fever, and diarrhea.

These symptoms are similar to an allergic reaction because mold can contain toxins. In the worst cases, such as in people with compromised immune systems, exposure to moldy weed can cause infections.

Moldy Weed? Don’t Take the Risk, Throw It Away

Although your odds of growing or purchasing moldy weed are small, the risk is high enough to remain vigilant. After all, the marijuana industry is still young, which means not all companies have a strict-enough level of quality control to prevent mold.

As a final note of advice, we strongly recommend that you do not use your weed if it looks or smells moldy. It is far better to dispose of it quickly to make sure it doesn’t spread to other plants. And don’t forget to do your due diligence and let your source know their weed is moldy.

Farma Health Desk Editor

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