Mold is a killer. It’s a eukaryotic micro-organism not a plant, animal, or bacteria. It’s so tiny you can’t see it until molds cluster together. Mold’s job is to eat dead organic material even if that mold is on your outdoor walls, bathroom grout—or cannabis.
It’s not enough to just trash moldy cannabis plants. Molds can show up in your prepared marijuana, drawn by moisture. Mold in your home has proven to be extremely toxic to humans. People are different, of course, so how much exposure is too much is an open question. How much worsens an allergy? How much affects asthma, lung problems, or autoimmune diseases?
Answers to these questions depend on several factors. But, we do know how to tell if your weed in moldy.
5 Signs that your weed is moldy
- If the mold has taken over, it’s easy to see. It’s the same thing you see on moldy bread or cheese, a fuzzy green, blue, or grey-white cluster on your stash. Sometimes, it is a powdery mildew on the leaves or buds.
- If you feel the plant, buds, or weed between your fingers, it should feel dry and crispy. If it is damp and spongy, it may be too risky.
- If it smells like it should, it’s okay. You want to smell that musky, earthy scent. But, moist grass smells sweet, and that means mold. Of course, you need some experience with strains to recognize one smell from another.
- If your allergies act up, you should pay attention. With or without allergies, you can expect from red-eye, mucus, or dry mouth after smoking. But, if your reaction is worse than usual, you need to see your doctor.
- If you feel chest pain, you may have a problem. Any smoker, especially first timers, will notice some burning in the lungs. But, tightness or pain the chest needs to be treated by your doctor soon.
4 Reasons to worry about moldy weed
- Mold multiplies through spores, minuscule ones that you can’t spot on a plant. So, picking mold clusters off or shaking off the powdery mildew does not get rid of the spores.
- Mold contains mycotoxins and endotoxins. Mycotoxins appear on the outside of mold spores and in the crevices and cracks of the plants. Endotoxins are released by dyeing bacteria. These toxins are bad for humans, especially with regular or intense exposure.
- Smoking moldy pot brings millions of microscopic spores and toxins into your lungs with every draw. Once in your lungs, the mold will grow in the spongy recesses of the lung tissues.
- Common molds have different effects. Each of them occurs in the environment, and people inhale them to some extent every day.
- Aspergillus may cause lung disease in animals and humans.
- Botrytis or Bud Rot appears mostly on grapes. But, it can invade cannabis patches and will destroy the plants.
- Penicillium can be beneficial. It is, after all, the source of Penicillin. But, some strains will destroy cannabis crops.
10 Ways to prevent mold on your weed
- You must store your weed carefully. If, for example, you store yours in glass jars, you must remove the lids at least once a day, and use test strips to indicate the moisture level.
- On the other hand, you cannot expose the pot to humid or moist air for any length of time. Commercially available packets will keep the weed at the correct humidity level.
- Considering your investment in marijuana, you might purchase a hygrometer like they use in cigar humidors and favor mold resistant strains.
- Baking your weed will kill most spores in mildly affected product. Scattered on a cookie sheet, the weed should dry under 200°F for 10 minutes before using it.
- Using a bong will reduce about 15% of the contamination through the water filtration process.
- Extracting the cannabinoids into concentrate with alcohol or butane at 200°F will eliminate most of the damage. Then, dabbing with the concentrate will expose it to more heat.
- If you grow your own, air circulation is your best friend. As plants grow larger, the larger leaves create more humidity and cover each other. You must have steady fresh air circulation above and below the leaves.
- Defoliate the plants as they grow, carefully removing the large leaves on each plant on a regular basis
- When you do your own harvesting, you should hang the cannabis buds upside down to dry in an area with 50% humidity and 70°F.
- Once they are dry, you cure them in storage containers at 70°F and 60-65% humidity. They’re ready when they are dry but slightly sticky.
And, if you weed is moldy?
Mold will appear at any stage in your plant’s growth. So, larger crops present a bigger challenge. If mold appears on one plant, you should remove it immediately. It can’t really be corrected. Composting it or burying it only spreads the contamination. Burning may be the option. But, moving it and transporting it also too actively only distributes the spores.
Mold targets plants in the two weeks before and after harvest. The more leaves and buds your plant produces, the more targets they provide for mold growth. So, daily inspection is necessary.
Mold can be controlled if not readily eliminated. Professional growers can vary soils, environments, and methods to correct threats to their crops. Personal use growers can stay on top of a few plants if they pay attention.
But, you cannot underestimate the risk to your crop or health by letting things go. These risks are yet another reason to trust you licensed dispensary more than your local dealer.