Even if your interest in cannabis is purely recreational, you probably enjoy the peace of mind thanks to research supporting its minimal health impacts, even when smoked. But just as easily as you can mistakenly buy a moldy lemon or rotten apple in the produce section of the grocery store, you can also buy bud that has been contaminated with mold. This is a problem no matter what your intent but the effects can be particularly rough on those using the herb medicinally since mold can have a field day with a weakened immune system. Lab testing of cannabis is enforced in the state of California by the Department of Food and Agriculture but with the regulations relatively new, it still pays to make the vigilant inspection of your bud your own responsibility.
The Tenacity of Cannabis Mold
Even during the grow phase, your cannabis can be contaminated in a variety of ways including pesticides, fungal infections and fertilizers. Mold is easily one of the most common contaminants of marijuana plants because of the ease with which it is fostered and spread. Since mold can be so tenacious and resilient, moldy marijuana tends to stay contaminated through the harvesting, curing and drying processes all the way to the dispensary. Unfortunately, even combustion won’t destroy the mold spores so your best course of action is to identify the mold before you even buy it. This can be easier said than done so your next option would be diagnosing a moldy product based on your reaction to it and then promptly getting rid of the product.
Visually Spotting Moldy Marijuana
You can identify moldy marijuana in a few different ways. How does your cannabis smell? Any bizarre fragrances, highly sugary smells or even an overtly damp smell can signal that your bud has been infiltrated with mold. In most cases, you won’t be able to identify mold just by visually inspecting your bud. However, if you have a jeweler’s loupe, you may be in luck. A jeweler’s loupe is a device commonly used by cannabis farmers to inspect their crops, though they’re typically using it to spot parasites or check the quality of their crop’s trichomes. Some dispensaries will even hook you up with a jeweler’s loupe or a magnifying glass so you can scrutinize your herb before you make your purchase. However, it doesn’t hurt to bring your own in case they leave you high and dry. Any good dispensary will be used to catering to connoisseurs and should have no problem with your discerning eye. But what should you be looking for? When a plant is in the growth stage, you can easily identify bud rot by its distinct, powdery appearance but harvested and cured bud is a different animal. When scrutinizing potentially moldy marijuana buds, you’ll be looking for any distinctive signs of discoloration.
Health Symptoms Resulting from Moldy Bud
But often we won’t catch that we’ve purchased moldy marijuana until after we’ve smoked, vaped or otherwise ingested it. We can get clued into the presence of moldy nugs in a variety of ways but most of these symptoms will be reactions to mycotoxins; components of mold that result in inflammation. No process of ingestion will kill the spores and you’ll likely experience some form of irritation that could manifest as a lung infection, an allergic reaction or even a bloody nose. A scratchy throat, swollen eyes and/or mucus buildup could all signify exposure to mycotoxins and may require a visit to your doctor. Chest pain can be another symptom harkening the presence of mold in your bud. While you may not be able to reverse the immediate effects of consuming moldy marijuana, a doctor’s visit can at least treat those symptoms until the inflammation passes. In any case, if you’re having this sort of reaction to your herb, it’s best to dispose of it as quickly and thoroughly as possible before the highly adaptable mold infiltrates your other stashes.
Another Reason to Use Airtight Containers
Since mold can thrive just as easily in your home supply as it can in an outside grow operation, proper storage of your cannabis is paramount in preventing the cultivation of mold. One of the easiest ways to prevent mold growth on dried marijuana is by storing it in an airtight container. This can be achieved with glass mason jars, pop top bottles, resealable Mylar bags, push-and-turn medicine bottles and more; every option has its distinct advantages. You should be keeping your medicinal or recreational cannabis in airtight containers anyway to preserve the structure of the cannabinoids and maintain your herb’s flavor and potency. Avoid packing your cannabis into your airtight containers too tightly as this can actually foster the growth of mold. Ideally, you’ll want the herb to be loaded into the container with a loose fit and minimal room for air at the top.
Controlling Humidity with CVault Containers
If you find yourself struggling to find the balance between dryness and moisture with your cannabis, you may want to invest in CVault containers for your storage. CVault containers are specially designed to keep your herb in an airtight, light resistant space that includes a Boveda pack to keep the humidity in the optimum range for fresh storage. You can get CVault containers in a variety of sizes including ones that are perfect for daily personal use. It may seem strange to want any humidity at all if you’re trying to prevent mold but remember that it’s important to make sure your bud isn’t too dry or too moist.
Where to Store Your Airtight Container
Now that you’ve selected the best container for preventing moldy marijuana buds, you also need to consider where you’re going to store the container itself. Again, this isn’t solely about mold prevention but rather finding a balance that will impede the growth of mold while preserving the cannabinoids of your herb. In this case, you’ll want to keep your container in a cool, dry place. Some patients and recreational users alike consider storing their cannabis in the refrigerator. However, this can throw your humidity out of balance and actually promote the growth of mold. Freezing your cannabis is a safer bet but you still risk losing potency. The best temperature range for storing your herb is somewhere between 40° and 72°F. While moldy marijuana can be a frustrating experience, it’s also one that can be prevented. Remember to always be scrutinizing about your purchases; even in high end dispensaries with solid reputations. In the event that you’re having physical reactions to your herb that mirror those characteristic of moldy buds, it’s best to dispose of the remaining amount. You may wish to visit a doctor if the symptoms are severe. This is especially important for those of us using cannabis for medicinal reasons. You may feel like you’re throwing money down the drain by disposing of moldy marijuana. However, the amount you could spend on doctor’s visits if you continue to smoke mycotoxins from moldy herb could eclipse that loss. Even if you’re focused on the recreational aspects of cannabis, your health should come first.