You’re cleaning out your bedside table when you find an old stash at the back of your drawer. You have no idea how long it’s been in there, but it would be a shame to let it go to waste! But how do you know if it’s still safe to smoke? Does weed even go bad?
Over time, the chemical makeup of your medical marijuana in Canada will change, similar to when lettuce starts to wilt or herbs dry out. When plants are exposed to oxygen, the molecules will slowly oxidize, and the plant will begin to lose its flavour and potency. Dried out, powdery old weed won’t kill you. But dense buds are often a breeding ground for mould and mildew, which could be problematic when inhaled or ingested.
This article will break down how to tell if your weed is still safe to smoke and the dangers of bad weed.
What Are the Dangers of Bad Weed?
When we talk about bad weed, we refer to weed that has become mouldy or grown fungi. Sometimes you might find a bag of weed that has basically turned to powder because it was so dry. Smoking that is not overly dangerous, although it won’t give you much of a high. The problem is weed that has retained moisture and grown mould.
Mould and fungi spores can survive just about anywhere. Even burning weed with mould doesn’t kill the spores, and they can end up inside your body. For those with a weak immune system, it can cause lung infections.
Mouldy weed contains compounds called endotoxins and mycotoxins. As the name suggests, these compounds are toxic to the human body. While your body may be able to fight off small amounts, if you are consistently smoking bad weed, it could irritate your system and lead to illness. Endotoxins, in particular, have been linked to lung irritation and worsening the symptoms of asthma.
Some common symptoms associated with smoking bad weed include:
- Muscle weakness
- Changes in mood
- Sensitivity to light
- Chest pain
- Inability to focus
Three main types of mould can grow on weed: Aspergillus, Cladosporium and Botrytis. The kind that your weed is most susceptible to will vary based on the region where you live.
What Does the Research Have to Say About Mouldy Weed?
There have been many studies done over the years to identify the impact of mouldy weed. In 2011, the Mediterranean Journal of Hematology and Infectious diseases studied two chronic pulmonary aspergillosis cases, which were linked to the smoking of mouldy marijuana. Cases of this condition are extremely rare but still worth noting.
In 2017, Clinical Microbiology and Infection published a study that found harmful fungi, including Aspergillus and Mucor, in samples of mouldy weed in a northern California dispensary. Smoking this weed could put patients at risk of fungal infections, inflammation and more.
In general, research and studies suggest it’s better to avoid bad weed than to risk smoking it.
The Tell-Tale Signs of Bad Medical Marijuana in Canada
Luckily, it’s not too hard to tell if your weed has gone bad. There are many tell-tale signs that you can use to identify when your weed is past its due date. We will take a look at the appearance of your weed, how it smells and how it tastes.
1. Visible Indications
The easiest way to tell if your weed has gone bad is by looking at it. As weed gets older, one of two things will happen to it. Either it will dry out and turn to powder, or it will grow mould. If you look at your stash and it’s nothing but some dried up, crunchy leaves, then you may not want to smoke it. It will have lost most of its potency anyway.
If you notice it has a white, fuzzy substance on it, that is definitely mould, and you should throw it out right away. If you’ve been storing it somewhere that is moist and warm, with not much airflow, then mould will grow quickly.
The colour of your weed can also tell you a lot about the quality. With so many unique strains of marijuana, it can come in many different colours. That said, there are some colours that you don’t want to see. Green is the most commonly associated colour of weed, but it can also be purple, blue, and even orange. That said, if you notice brown, yellow or white, then you should steer clear!
The best way to spot mould on medical marijuana in Canada is with an LED Light Loupe, which will allow you to spot the signs of mould better than you could with the naked eye.
2. Aromatic Indications
The smell of your weed is also a good indicator of whether it is good or not. Take a whiff and notice if it smells musty or like your sweaty gym shoes. This damp smell is a good indicator of the presence of mould. You could also notice a chemical smell, which is likely from pesticides that may be present on your weed. If you smell that, then you might want to avoid smoking it as well.
On the flip side, your weed could smell like nothing. As weed ages, it loses potency and the terpenes that produce the smell diminish. That means it won’t smell as strong as it did when you first got it.
3. Taste Indications
If your weed’s appearance and the smell didn’t indicate that it was bad, then the last step is the taste test. It looks fine on the surface and doesn’t smell mouldy, but the taste is a dead giveaway. If the weed is old and dry, it will likely taste like weed, but with a very mild flavour. If there is mould present, then it will taste off and not be enjoyable. As soon as you notice that the flavour is off, you should immediately stop smoking it and throw out the remnants of your stash.
As hard as it can be to throw out a bag of the green stuff, it’s not worth smoking bad weed. Mould can have harmful side effects on the body, so it’s best to play it safe and chuck it as soon as you notice it’s off.