Marijuana Lab: Report Doesn't Mean Pot Mold Is Putting Patients at Risk

A 7News report about mold found in recreational marijuana flowers raised the prospect that impurities may endanger the health of medical marijuana patients — particular ones that might be suffering from a compromised immune system.

But even as numerous legislators push the idea of medical-marijuana testing, a representative from one notable lab warns patients against pressing the panic button.

Right now, state law mandates testing of recreational marijuana, but only when it comes to potency and homogeneity. However, 7News notes that the Marijuana Enforcement Division hopes to roll out tests for mold, pesticides and other contaminants before year's end.

Legislators such as Representative Jonathan Singer, a pro-marijuana-access politician who's backed a measure to make post-traumatic-stress disorder a condition treatable by cannabis, also support testing of MMJ for mold and the like.

The tenor of the 7News report, as well as images of moldy marijuana supplied by a state-certified laboratory that requested anonymity, concerned the Cannabis Business Alliance, which attempted to counter the negative publicity with comments from Ian Barringer of Rm3 Labs in Boulder.

Barringer fears that the 7News piece may cause patients to view MMJ as unsafe — and in his opinion, such an assumption is unwarranted.

"We've recently added highly sensitive, DNA-based testing for the dangerous types of mold and bacteria that are prohibited under State regulations and have not found any marijuana samples that wouldn't pass," he notes in a CBA release. "Every surface you touch is covered in mold spores. If we put some of these spores in a petri dish they'll grow rapidly, and the longer they grow, the worse they'll look, whether or not they're harmful. People have been smoking marijuana safely for thousands of years, and we're only now beginning to learn the rare conditions when normal background mold levels turn into a hazardous situation."

In Barringer's view, the legalization of marijuana in Colorado is making grows safer than ever before. "Modern grow facilities are multi-million dollar investments, and growers can't afford to have unsanitary conditions that could cost them an entire crop," he maintains. "Grows going into production now look like high-tech clean rooms."

Barringer adds that the marijuana industry and state regulators are working together, as opposed to being adversaries. "Since testing of recreational products for potency became mandatory less than a year ago, we've seen the industry take enormous strides in accuracy and consistency in the THC levels of their products," he states. "As we roll out more and more tests — residual solvents in concentrates, mold and bacteria in flower and edibles — we expect we'll see these same kinds of improvements."

Here's the 7News report:

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
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