Researchers at the University of California, Davis have discovered that medical marijuana from 20 dispensaries contain multiple fungal and bacterial contaminants that are highly toxic and can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections among cannabis users. The researchers have warned users that smoking, vaping or inhaling aerosolized marijuana is a real health risk, especially for those with chronic conditions such as lymphoma, AIDS or other conditions requiring immunosuppressing therapies. The findings will be published in the journal Clinical Microbiology and Infection, titled, “A microbiome assessment of medical marijuana.”
Using sophisticated genomics methods to analyze for the presence of bacteria and fungi from 20 marijuana samples obtained from Northern California dispensaries, the study revealed a multitude of toxic microorganisms, many of which are known causes of serious lung infections, including Cryptococcus, Mucor, and Aspergillus fungi and Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria.
Medical Marijuana for Symptom Control and Its Issues
George Thompson III, MD, the lead author of the study noted that…“Sick patients are using medical marijuana to help them with symptom control. Because microorganisms known to cause serious infections in immunocompromised patients were found to be common in marijuana, we strongly advise patients to avoid it.”
Medical marijuana is frequently used to control nausea, pain and lack of appetite in patients with a host of serious and chronic conditions, including those immunocompromised from AIDS, chemotherapy, or following a transplant procedure.
Legalization without proper scientific scrutiny has led to increasing acceptance in many states. A recent Gallup study showed that a majority of Americans now believe that marijuana is generally safe. Of course, when it is obtained legally and supposedly monitored by state health departments for safety, users assume marijuana dispensaries have met certain regulatory standards to protect consumer safety. But this is not true because the purity, quality and safety is not federally regulated.
Moreover, the idea that vaping is safe drug delivery method is a chimera. Inhaling marijuana in any form provides a pathway deep into the lungs where infections are most dangerous and can spread quickly through the blood. The pathogens found in study samples are all dangerous and could lead to serious illness and death.
Why Does This Matter?
The public has been told that marijuana that is legally attained from a licensed dispensary consists of pure, natural, cannabis which can be safely inhaled as a mist to deliver its supposed medicinal benefits. Moreover, the public believes that temperatures reached by smoking marijuana are high enough to kill any fungi or bacteria. This, of course, is untrue and not substantiated by any research. Medical, and now recreational, use of marijuana has been foisted on the public via the ballot box without any scientific due diligence regarding its safety or efficacy. We are now beginning to pay the piper for this ignorant miscalculation.
UC Davis. Clinical Microbiology and Infection, titled, “A microbiome assessment of medical marijuana.” In press. Retrieved from http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/publish/news/newsroom/11791. March 13, 2018