Is Smoking Moldy Weed Bad for You?
Published on 2/28/21
Like it or not, mold is everywhere around us. There's the good kind, like the kind that makes up decadent mushrooms and fancy blue cheeses; and also plenty of bad kinds, like fuzzy bread and green spores growing in damp basements. What about mold on weed? Yes, just like all plant material, cannabis can grow mold given the right atmospheric conditions. As America's expanding legal industry brings batch-by-batch laboratory testing to the marijuana market, states like California, Colorado and Michigan have had to recall thousands of pounds of weed that failed microbial mold tests.
So what is mold and how does it get on your weed? And if even legal shops sometimes even sell moldy products, how can you tell if you're smoking moldy weed? We've got answers to all those questions and more, including what to do if you do discover mold on your flower and how to properly store your cannabis to avoid mold and mildew in the first place.
What Is Mold and How Does It Grow?
Mold and mildew are types of fungus that grow in moist, humid environments. Humans inhale mold spores every day as we go about our typical life, but it is typically in such low quantity that we can fight off any risk of infection. If mold grows on your food or weed though, it can potentially cause mild to severe harm when ingested.
When it comes to mold on marijuana, the fungus typically grows due to a mixture of residual moisture, humidity and lack of airflow. Mold can also appear during the growing process, especially outdoors, if weed gets too wet or an outside source, like pests or airborne spores, contaminates it. In dried, smokable flower, mold tends to grow when weed is not properly dried and sealed for curing and storage with too much moisture. The longer one exposes cannabis to changes in temperature, humidity or stale air, the more susceptible it is to mold.
What Does Moldy Weed Look Like?
There are many types of mold and they all grow a little differently. You can identify the most common moldy weed symptoms by looks, smell or feel.
If you're eyeballing weed that you suspect might be moldy, start by looking for any white or gray growth that looks stringy like a cobweb. The presence of mold might not be visible on the outside of the flower, so it's a good idea to crack open a few buds to see if there is any fungal growth closer to the stem. Another common type of cannabis mold, powdery mildew, looks just like kief or THC trichomes. Upon closer inspection, the white or brown growth looks more like sawdust than THC. If you really can't tell the difference between moldy weed vs. trichomes and you're still suspicious, break out a magnifying glass for a closer and much clearer look.
Sometimes you don't even need to look to know your weed is moldy; your nose will tell you first. Unlike marijuana's traditionally funky, earthy, fruity flavors, moldy weed will start to smell like pee, sweat or hay. Suffice to say, moldy weed smell is not a pleasant odor, and a rank smell in your bag of bud is often a sign of contamination.
Lastly, if you can't tell by the look or smell, some forms of bud rot mold are easy to discover when you break up your weed. If your previously chunky weed is flaking off and crumbling in your fingers, it's time to get rid of that flower and wash your hands.
Can You Smoke Moldy Weed?
So what happens if you do discover mold on your latest batch of flower? Can you still smoke it? Unfortunately, this one has a clear answer. No, you should not smoke moldy cannabis under any circumstance.
Smoking weed contaminated with mold won't automatically make a user sick, but it can easily agitate the lungs, causing coughing, vomiting and sinus pain. In people with weakened immune systems, smoking moldy weed can lead to infection and in some cases, severe health complications.
Is There Anything You Can Use as a Moldy Weed Fix?
Unless you are creating laboratory-grade THC distillate in your living room, there is no easy way to remove mold from your cannabis. Mold spreads rapidly, so picking off moldy sections of a bud is not likely to save it, and could instead spread the mold to more of your weed if you handle it without care. You shouldn't make hash or any other non-distilled extracts with moldy weed because it will simply magnify and concentrate the quantity of mold in your final product.
No matter how little weed you have left in your stash or how much you want to spark up, it is never worth smoking moldy weed.
How To Properly Store Weed and Avoid Mold
The best way to make sure you aren't smoking moldy weed is to properly store your flower at all times. In the post-cultivation process that means drying your bud in a room complete with temperature and humidity controls.
For consumers, avoiding moldy weed is all about storage. Assuming that you bought weed that was dried properly, keeping it in an airtight glass container (like a mason jar) stored in a dark, dry, room temperature drawer or closet will keep the mold away for far longer than it takes to smoke. Ditch those Ziploc bags and plastic bottles and start storing your cannabis properly today to avoid any nasty mold from popping up in your next batch of flower.
Have you ever had to throw away moldy weed? Let us know about your experience with bad bud in the comments below!