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High Aspergillus Levels Found in Moldy Colorado Weed: Not Good for Transplant Patients




The Colorado Department of Revenue (DOR) together with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has issued a Health and Safety Advisory regarding unsafe cannabis from a Colorado-based dispensary, Living Rose Wellness. Over 200 batches of cannabis were tested and found to have unsafe levels of mold, yeast, and aspergillus and were therefore declared unsafe for human consumption. 

The Colorado Springs based dispensary which is registered as SJD, LLC  did not adhere to MED Rule series (4-100) standards when submitting the batches of marijuana for testing. When the batches were retested, it was found that the safe limit, for total yeast, mold, and aspergillus, according to Colorado Marijuana Rule 4-115, had been exceeded. Fungus thrive in environments that have a high moisture content.  Properly cured cannabis should have a moisture content of about 10%-12% to deter fungus growth. While most states agree that mycotoxin testing is necessary, the regulatory limits vary significantly from one state to another. States that test for aspergillus include Alaska, California, Michigan, Nevada, and New York. Labs need to use a testing method that is approved by the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists (AOAC® International). 

DOR has advised the public against consuming the moldy cannabis products from the affected dispensary. Consumers are to return the products to the dispensary for proper disposal, they also have the option of destroying the cannabis at home. DOR has also directed that any adverse effects associated with the consumption of the moldy cannabis should be reported to Marijuana Enforcement Division. 

Marijuana Patients Denied Organ Transplant Due to the Risk of Aspergillosis

In 2017, a patient in Maine was removed from the Maine organ transplant list because of previous marijuana use. This story was first highlighted by CNN. The Maine transplant program took this drastic step after two patients (with previous marijuana use) succumbed to aspergillosis after receiving a transplant. In a press release statement, the Maine Transplant program stated that the patients can be put back on the list once they were off marijuana.

The aspergillus is a saprophytic fungus that is frequently found in soil and helps to eliminate carbon and nitrogen from the atmosphere. Aspergillus spores, which are very tiny, are easily spread by strong air currents in a grow room. While aspergillus spores may not cause harm in healthy individuals, they are likely to cause aspergillosis in immuno-compromised patients. Those consuming immunosuppressants are also at a higher risk for developing aspergillosis. Aspergillosis can be fatal when it impairs breathing or causes bleeding in the lungs. The aspergillosis can quickly move from the lungs to the kidney, brain, and even heart. 

 A study that was published in 2016 demonstrated higher incidence of invasive aspergillosis after kidney transplant. The outcome of patients who developed aspergillosis after kidney transplant was also poor. A different study also showed that aspergillus infection is associated with higher morbidities and poorer outcomes after lung transplant.

Marijuana Use in Transplant Patients: Clarity Needed

A 2019 survey that was conducted by researchers in conjunction with the Executive Committee of the Infectious Diseases Community of Practice of the American Society of Transplantation sought clarity on marijuana use in transplant patients. The researchers observed a “discordance among transplant centers in their perceived risks of marijuana use as opposed to complications actually observed.”

Should marijuana users be denied access to organ transplants due to “perceived risks?”

Let us know your thoughts.

Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.