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Imagine you just bought some top-shelf cannabis from a dispensary; you get home and load up your grinder, but you notice something – small patches of white fuzz on the buds. To the naked and untrained eye, it may just look like a patch of dense trichomes – but it might just be a lung infection waiting to happen!
Most states require lab testing to ensure that cannabis products don’t contain harmful pesticides, molds, and other toxic substances. Consumers should still inspect their cannabis thoroughly and familiarize themselves with what mold looks like on cannabis. If a user smokes cannabis with mold on it, it could result in a lung infection or worse if the user has a weakened immune system.
When mold is on cannabis, it can sometimes be hard to spot with the naked eye and is a reason to keep a loupe or a magnifying glass handy. Some cannabis users look at their buds through a magnifying lens anyway to see the trichomes up close, which is good practice because it makes it easier to see if something is out of the ordinary.
When cultivating cannabis, it’s essential to have the proper environmental conditions throughout the plants’ entire lifecycle.
If it gets too humid for too long, you’re likely to end up having a mold problem. Spotting mold early is essential to the health of all the plants, so it’s good to know how to spot it.
Two primary molds affect cannabis, with the most common being white powdery mildew. It is almost invisible to the naked eye and can be very hard to detect, especially early.
The very first signs of white powdery mildew are small white bumps on the leaves that are almost impossible to see with the naked eye. More advanced stages of white powdery mildew can look a lot like a patch of dense trichomes on the buds at first glance but may have a bluish-green hue to it. When magnified, white powdery mildew does not look like trichomes – it will look like wispy cobwebs.
The other type of mold to watch for is botrytis or bud rot; it begins on the stem and destroys the buds from the inside out. Botrytis spreads and creates fuzzy brownish-black and white patches on the inside of a bud and can even turn the center of the bud into mush.
Early detection of mold on cannabis is the key to controlling it and preventing it from spreading to other plants. Growers should be inspecting their plants daily with a fine-tooth comb, or in this case – a magnifying glass. If mold or mildew are detected, the affected plants should either be destroyed or treated with an appropriate crop agent.
Some cultivators feel that the only remedy for mold is to trash the plants and start over. Some crop agents for treating mold and mildew either don’t work or give the cannabis a foul taste and can even be harmful to users. Maryland’s first licensed cultivator almost lost its license because of a mold problem.
In October 2018, the MMCC (Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission) ordered that all cannabis dispensaries in Maryland stop selling and quarantine all cannabis products produced by the cultivator Forward Gro. The order came after an inspection of the Forward Gro facility revealed that at least six prohibited crop agents had been used to try to solve problems with mold and pests.
Seventeen former and current employees gave statements to the MMCC and said that pests and white powdery mildew were frequent and ongoing problems at the Forward Gro facility. Some former employees said that all their complaints about quality standards went completely unaddressed by their superiors.
In the end, Forward Gro had to start all over from scratch. They were to hire a new head grower, offer full refunds on products produced before May 31, 2018, pay a fine of $125,000, agree to frequent random inspections by the MMCC, and make critical changes to its leadership.
Some Maryland dispensaries refuse to carry Forward Gro products, and some consumers refuse to purchase them. The worst part is that it all might not have happened if only their head grower had just taken the time to thoroughly inspect the plants regularly to catch a problem like this early.
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