Depending on the situation — mold can be a good and bad thing, with moldy weed being the latter. Trust us, moldy cannabis is no fun.
Mold is present in virtually every environment humans have occupied, indoors, outdoors, food, beverages, bathrooms, clothing, and even plants.
Biologically, mold is essential for the decomposition of organic materials, but indoor mold growth is highly undesirable for the most part, and for good reason.
Unfortunately, your favourite bud is not exempt. There has been a fair share of product recalls in legal markets due to consumers smoking moldy weed.
In fact, in January 2019, 48 pounds of cannabis was recalled by Michigan regulators because of a mold infestation. The tales of mildew and mold creeping their way into entire batches of weed are far and wide, but that is not what we are here to talk about today.
We are here to educate you about what moldy weed is, how to tell if you have some, and why it is bad for you.
Let’s get started!
What is Moldy Weed & Why is it Bad For You?
We should first start off by establishing exactly what mold and mildew are before you can fully grasp why you should avoid weed that has been taken hostage by it.
Most types of mold grow and thrive in moist environments with poor circulation. In terms of your weed, mold indicates it’s diseased, placing medical patients with compromised immune systems at risk.
Their bodies may not be able to fight off the spores and their mycotoxins. This element is particularly troublesome because mycotoxins can be very harmful and even fatal to humans by causing a host of health complications.
If you think you can merely burn off any mold you find, think again, they like a nice sauna. Smoking moldy weed would not only have you inhaling harsh smoke, but you would be taking in all of the spores, which could lead to trouble breathing, headaches, nausea, heart palpitations, and even pneumonia.
The dangers of moldy weed also extend to edibles. If you make a batch using moldy cannabis, all those toxins transfer into the food. So, if you unknowingly give a brownie to a friend that is allergic to penicillin — it could seriously harm or even kill them.
This fact is why it’s so important to inspect all batches before loading and smoking, and why should never, ever consume moldy weed.
How to Tell if You Have Moldy Weed
While you will likely be able to tell whether or not you have moldy weed relatively easily most of the time, there are some tips and tricks for when it gets more complicated.
Either way, you should always inspect your bud before consuming it, regardless of the method. So, with that in mind, here are examples of ways to decipher if you have moldy weed.
The Eyes Have it
Of course, the most obvious and straightforward method to help determine if you have moldy cannabis is to use those beautiful peepers of yours.
Luckily for us, most types of mold that afflict cannabis are visible to the naked eye. So, you will more than likely be able to spot mold spores or mildew simply by looking at your bud. However, even if you do think you spot something irregular, how can you know for sure?
Don’t worry. We’ve got your back. There are specific signs to look out for that will clue you in.
In terms of colouring and texture, mold most typically appears on weed to resemble powdered sugar or sawdust. However, some tokers may mistake it for a similar-looking substance, kief.
Still, if you take a closer look, it is easy to distinguish the difference. The trichomes on the weed plant usually have a mushroom-like shape with a more bulbous, crystalline tip. Mold, on the other hand, does not.
Colour is another crucial component when determining whether your weed has spawned mold. Mold can appear in a plethora of colours, including grey, black, yellow or brown. Regardless, it’s certainly not that righteous green that makes your bud so beautiful.
The Nose Knows
Sometimes, mold can be tricky, and it might stand out as obviously as we’d like. However, smell is another wonderful sense we have at our disposal to help us sniff out any potential problems.
If you’re new to the world of weed or even for more seasoned blazers, weed has a very distinct skunky, dank smell that is appreciated by many. It may vary from strain to strain, but it is earthy and familiar nonetheless.
Mold also has a distinctive smell, although it’s not nearly as pleasant.
If your bodacious bud’s smell falters from dank to something more urine or sweat-like in nature, you’ve got yourself some moldy cannabis.
Unfortunately, if it comes to this point, there’s nothing else you can do besides throwing the weed out entirely. It’s heartbreaking, we know, but it will save you in the long run.
Test out the Texture
Ultimately, some of the easiest and efficient methods of uncovering moldy weed is your various senses. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that your sense of touch can also be of service in this regard.
All you need to do is grab some of your weed and place it between your fingers. Does it feel right to you? If it’s dry and flaky, then you aren’t in danger of having mold.
However, if it’s spongy and damp, you likely have a mold problem. If your weed is slimy at all, throw it out immediately. Never, in any context or scenario, should your weed feel slimy.
If you find that your weed has any sort of slime on it, do not, under any circumstance, ingest it.
Purchase a Microscope
Relive the glorious days spent in your high school biology class by buying a handy-dandy microscope.
While it may not be what your teacher had in mind in terms of usage, a microscope can be an excellent tool to help uncover moldy weed.
While a lot of types are, not all mold will be visible in plain sight. If you have suspicions about the quality or safety level of your weed, or even if you just feel like something is off, a microscope will allow you to take an even closer look to know for sure if something is up.
Freshly sprouting or new mold will likely not have matured enough to the point to give off any clear visual cues or unrighteous smells, so a microscope may be your best bet to determine the problem quickly.
In terms of what to look out for in particular, mold will produce tiny filaments, but they will not look like the naturally-occurring trichomes that generally would appear on your bud. These filaments, also known as hyphae, can be easily seen through a microscope.
Break out the Black Light
Another reliable method for differentiating mold from the rest of the surface of your bud is by using a black light.
The UV-A light detects mold contamination, making it one of the most effective methods for spotting moldy cannabis.
When shined on by a black light, mold will glow with a yellow-green colour that is easily discernible on the surface of the weed.
While you may think that this method is one of the more costly ones, you can find a vast assortment of different options for black lights to purchase online, many of which are quite affordable.
What to do if You Have Moldy Cannabis
Cannabis that has been inundated with mold needs to be trashed not only for your safety but also for anyone else with whom you may share it.
We understand that weed isn’t cheap, and it’s hard to toss out what looks to be a perfectly good bud, but it’s just not worth the risk.
Jeopardizing your or others’ health and lives isn’t worth all the weed in the world.
A surefire way to prevent having moldy weed, to begin with, is to skip purchasing dry flower entirely and instead opt for one of the many other cannabis-infused products like edibles or tinctures to get your buzz on.
Many tokers gravitate towards tinctures because they supply an efficient, potent and accurate way to receive doses of either CBD, THC or a hybrid while also being versatile and discreet.
Whether you opt to include them in edibles or consume them directly through sublingual ingestion (under the tongue), tinctures provide a portable dosing method perfect for being on the go that both recreational and medicinal weed users love.
Speaking of edibles, they are also an excellent alternative to smoking dry bud. As we stated previously, if you do determine that you have moldy weed, you should never, by any means, make edibles with it.
However, multiple other cannabis-infused products make edibles easy as pie, or whatever it is you’re opting to make.
If you’re still passionate about the classic act of smoking your weed, there is another consumption method that offers the perfect compromise between safety and ease of use, a vape pen.
A vape pen poses a healthier alternative to smoking flower as you avoid ingesting potentially harmful carcinogens as well as excess plant matter by instead switching to a cannabis e-liquid that comes in a cartridge.
In this way, the weed is never actually combusted but is already decarboxylated to provide a smooth toke and overall pleasurable experience.
All of these methods circumvent the issue of having moldy cannabis by eliminating the risk altogether, allowing you to easily enjoy the benefits of cannabis without worrying about adverse side effects, or having to throw it out entirely.
How to Prevent Moldy Weed
The two leading causes of moldy weed are too much moisture and a lack of proper air circulation. These factors create the perfect environment for mildew to take root and take over what could have been some top-shelf stuff.
Temperature is also a key player in the game of mold and mildew formation. Bad weed can’t form in cold environments under 4°C (~ 40°F), but it also can’t survive in temperatures over 37.7°C (~ 100°f).
In this way, dispensaries located in dryer climates are less affected than ones in warmer and more humid locales.
All carbon-based lifeforms, including fish, need oxygen and a food source to survive, and mold is no different. It loves to feast on organic matter like your favourite strain by slowly decomposing it.
If you’re growing your own weed and want to prevent this from happening, you need to make sure the moisture and temperature are kept at optimal settings and get enough airflow. Don’t store wet plants in an air-tight container, and be sure they get adequate light.
Another great tip for preventing mold formation with home growers is only to buy strains that were made to be grown in a similar climate to wherever you’re located.
You can do this by getting online and doing a little research about different strains suited for humid or dry environments – depending on where you live – and learning the details about its resistance to mold, and how much or little moisture it can take.
Moldy Weed – Unfortunate, but Preventable
Moldy weed will almost always look and smell “off.” The good news is that all it takes to avoid inhaling or ingesting some is to be diligent in your inspection beforehand and ensure that you practice the appropriate storage methods.
If you have a compromised immune system, asthma, or any other lung conditions, you’ll want to be extra vigilant because the potential threats will be intensified.
If you do find yourself in possession of moldy weed, throw it away, no matter what. It doesn’t matter if you’re healthy as a horse. There is risk involved because you don’t know what types of spores you may be allergic to, which could end up being life-threatening.
Nevertheless, the biggest determining factors have and always will be the environment the weed is grown, how it’s cared for, and how old it is.
If you find that the weed you have purchased contains mold, it is also essential to alert the dispensary you purchased from so they can inform the manufacturer of the issue. More often than not, dispensaries will want to rectify this issue.
As always, remain diligent, stay safe and enjoy!