If you sampled some of the nearby hash final month at Spannabis, Spain’s annual cannabis festival, and came away feeling in much less than tip-prime overall health, we have news you can use.
Scientists tested 90 samples of illicit hash obtained in Madrid. 75% had been contaminated with fecal matter.
Spanish researchers who lately analyzed 90 samples of hashish acquired in the Madrid area identified that 75% of the hash nugs had been contaminated with human feces. So if you are smoking hash in Spain, there’s a very good opportunity you are inhaling some nasty shit. Actually.
In the most up-to-date edition of the journal Forensic Science International, scientists from two universities in Madrid reported that practically 90% of the hashish samples they tested had been unsuitable for human consumption. Most (75%) of the samples had been contaminated with E. coli bacteria, which is a scientist’s way of saying they contained human poo. It wasn’t just a trace quantity, either. The contaminated samples all contained levels of the bacteria greater than the maximum permitted by United States and European Union requirements. The poop taint so permeated the hash that 30% of the samples essentially “had fecal odor,” the researchers wrote.
That is not all. Ten % of the samples contained higher levels of Aspergillus fungus, which can lead to pneumonia and severe overall health complications for persons with weakened immune systems.
“Hence,” the researchers concluded, Spain’s illicit hashish provide “constitutes a public overall health concern.”
How Did This Come about?
Hashish is pressed cannabis resin. (For extra on hash, see Leafly’s full explainer right here.) Morocco, Spain’s southern neighbor, is the world’s prime producer of the illicit solution. It is only a nine-mile water crossing from Tangier to southern Andalusia, and most of Europe’s illegal hash moves from Morocco by way of Spain for distribution all through the EU.
Massive quantities of that solution are pressed into bricks. But smaller sized portions generally move as two-inch-extended pellets, identified as acorns, that resemble quite substantial mouse droppings. And these acorns are smuggled internally, if you get my which means.
“Acorn samples are frequently transported inside the digestive technique,” the researchers noted, “which may possibly clarify the reality that contamination by E. coli was in particular substantial.”
A Byproduct of Prohibition
Spain’s poop weed is a prime instance of a public overall health hazard developed by cannabis prohibition.
Hashish and other extracted cannabis items are frequently obtainable in legal markets in the United States, such as California, Massachusetts, Colorado, and Washington. In these states, strict regulations need retail items to be tested for a range of contaminants. Batches that fail the test are diverted from the industry and destroyed.
These legal, regulated markets also need suppliers to create cannabis items in sanitary environments. Completed batches are tested, sealed, labeled, and transported in safe trucks rather than in the digestive tracts of human beings.
Not Funny When You Get Sick
Poop jokes aside, the ingesting or inhaling any solution contaminated with E. coli or Aspergillus can lead to seriously damaging overall health circumstances.
Ingesting E. coli can bring about nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, vomiting, either separately or in mixture. In intense situations, E. coli contamination has led to extreme illness and death. In 2018, romaine lettuce contaminated by the bacteria sickened extra than 200 persons in the United States and led to 5 deaths. Heat kills most but not all E. coli bacteria—which is why it is extra most likely to be ingested by way of undercooked, but not nicely performed, hamburger meat.
The bacteria can effortlessly be transferred by fingers handling the contaminated hash, then the pipe mouthpiece.
With regard to hash, the bacteria can be effortlessly transferred by a person’s fingers from the sticky hashish to the mouthpiece of a pipe. And in some cultures, hashish is extra most likely to be stirred into a beverage and consumed with out the application of any bacteria-killing heat.
Aspergillus is a prevalent mold. Most persons inhale tiny portions each and every day with out receiving sick. Folks with compromised immune systems, nonetheless, are at threat of creating lung illnesses from the fungus.
It is unclear how the fungus is impacted by vaping or combustion. Even though there are no clinical research that address the query, combustion occurs at 451 degrees F, and the upper limit of Aspergillus survival is about 140 degrees F. A quantity of troubling reports emerged from California in 2017, nonetheless, that produced researchers query no matter if cancer individuals who inhaled health-related cannabis contaminated with fungi—and later died—were seriously harmed by the tainted cannabis. (Chris Roberts investigated that concern for Leafly in this function report.)
Riding the Smoke
“Consumers think that [Aspergillus] contamination does not include any threat simply because they inhale smoke immediately after combustion,” the researchers noted. But as a customer inhales the combusted hash smoke, the airstream can choose up bits of Aspergillus as it travels by way of the uncombusted hash, efficiently riding the smoke deep into the lungs.
Fungi and bacteria weren’t the only adulterants identified in the Spanish hash. Researchers found that 13% of all samples contained vegetable debris and bits of hair. None of the hash samples had been spiked with other drugs—cocaine, amphetamines, or opiate derivatives—or with glass or talcum powders.
The only other adulterants identified had been glucose, sucrose, and pine resin, which are frequently added to hash to hold it moist and give it a shiny, sticky look.