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By Steve Birr
Medical experts are warning about weed contaminated with fungus and bacteria in California after investigating the state’s medical marijuana supply following the death of a cancer patient from a fungal infection.
Doctors from the University of California, Davis partnered with Steep Hill Laboratories in Berkeley to test medical marijuana samples from dispensaries across the state for contaminants. Officials said roughly 90 percent of the marijuana they tested had positive traces of some form of fungus or bacteria. While a healthy adult is not likely to be affected by these kinds of pathogens, it presents problems for medical patients with diminished immune systems, reports The Sacramento Bee.
Officials launched the investigation after a man battling cancer in California died from a rare fungal infection believed to have come from a contaminated batch of medical marijuana. The investigation, a culmination of several years of research published in the journal Clinical Microbiology and Infection, suggests patients with compromised immune systems should approach medical marijuana with caution.
“For the vast majority of cannabis users, this is not of great concern,” Dr. George Thompson, professor in the UC Davis Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, told The Sacramento Bee.
The doctors note more research is still needed to establish a definitive link between contaminants on medical marijuana and infection in patients with diminished immune systems, but are “highly suspicious” of the medical pot the man was using before he died. They note the unidentified man’s immune system was already in a compromised state due to the cancer treatment, allowing the infection to grow quickly.
One expert likened the man’s fatal fungus to the contaminants found on rat droppings. The doctors said they want to raise patient awareness on the risks of using medical marijuana for certain conditions. While patients may assume medical marijuana is stringently tested, there are no current requirements for lab testing of products.
Officials expect more concrete rules for testing and regulating marijuana by next year, when the state implements recreational marijuana legalization, which voters approved Election Day through a popular ballot.
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