Contaminated MMJ blamed for California man’s death

A cancer patient in California is dead, and doctors suspect contaminated medical marijuana may have been the cause in what could serve as a wake-up call for the state’s MMJ industry.

According to CBS Los Angeles, the man was using medical cannabis to ward off the side effects of traditional cancer treatments. The cancer treatment compromised the patient’s immune system, and he unexpectedly contracted a rare fungal infection that ultimately killed him.

The fungus that killed the patient “was equivalent to what is on rodent droppings,” CBS Los Angeles reported.

After the patient died, 20 MMJ samples from across California were tested for contamination, and the “vast majority” were tainted with “dangerous bacteria and fungi,” CBS Los Angeles reported.

In another recent test, six MMJ samples from dispensaries around the San Francisco Bay Area were tested for potentially dangerous pesticides, and only one tested clean, according to CBS San Francisco.

The death could prove a warning bell for the cannabis industry, which has struggled for years with a reputation for cutting corners when it comes to potentially dangerous cultivation practices.

Several states have adopted lists of approved nontoxic pesticides, and product recalls have become almost commonplace when contamination is detected.

And depending on how this death – and potentially others – play out, it could signal the start of a new era of legal liability for cannabis businesses.

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23 comments on “Contaminated MMJ blamed for California man’s death
  1. Cactus Bill on

    Therein lies a huge problem that simply must be reduced to the same level of risk as traditional Pharma.
    The goal is reachable, although will mos def drive the cost of production way up, which in turn could double patient pricing.
    Nobody said this would be easy.

    • johnnybegood on

      If your consuming cannabis flower look at closely. You can see powder mild, mold with ease or invest in a magnifying glass. You can burn the flower and examine the ash yourself. If the ash turns light grey and holds it form , looks like a piece of coal, it was not flush properly and most likely grow with chem.

  2. Gary Boyd on

    There will always be some individual that will buy his product out the back door. All inventory should be tracked and batch numbers verified by an accredited lab. One bad batch means lawsuits .

  3. Gary Goodwin on

    Bottom line as I’ve said before is to many laboratories that lack the expertise to do proper testing. Unless this industry decides to take control, more people will die.

    • Lawrence Goodwin on

      It is difficult to “take control” of this industry when federal, state and local lawmakers refuse to give up their prohibitive powers. Without the constant imposition of the “marihuana” fraud in many states, thousands of reputable scientific labs are unable to operate testing businesses that keep cannabis consumers safe. How many people are dying from contaminated beers or bottles of bourbon sold in stores? Not many, because in that case the feds are smarter. They properly regulate an entire trade through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

  4. Pam on

    If it grows lower than a bird flies it has to be washed before eaten. The MMJ outdoor industry is having a wake-up call. Outdoor is only good for CO2 extraction. Indoor for MMJ. Expand your knowledge of using renewable resources to light those bulbs.

    • Jason King on

      Pam that is nonsense. First off, people have been smoking tiny amounts of bird sh*t for eons, it won’t hurt you if it happens. What WILL hurt you is smoking chemicals or chemical residue, whether on indoor or outdoor herb. What will also hurt you is if we keep killing our planet by burning fossil fuels, and growing herb indoors is a HUGE polluter. Best of both worlds – greenhouse. And using renewables to grow indoor is just stupid. there is NO substitute for the SUN. A huge waste of resources. People went indoors when the laws were so strict that they had do. Now, as the laws loosen, outdoor or greenhouse is the only sustainable way, and produces the best quality, when done properly.

      Jason King
      Author, The Cannabible

  5. Old School Organic farmer on

    Be careful not to jump the gun. The article does not indicate the Cannabis ingested by the patient was contaminated. That said, patients with compromised immune systems need to be very careful. Cannabis, like other farm produce, may have trace contaminants. On our farm, the main input is composted manures and rotten hay, but zero Chemmies. Chemmie growers may not have these, but Will have detectable residues of insecticides, fungicides etc. To my knowledge, there is no such thing as “STERILE” Cannabis.

  6. Solis Lujan on

    Every product should be tested before it is sold to the public. Every purchase of buds should be tested before sale and if it does not pass testing it should be returned to the grower. If fact, no payment should change hands until a testing lab gives it the ok. We must hold the growers accountable, period. Sure it might be an added expense to grow organic without pesticides, but that is too damn bad. Growers need to educate themselves on sustainable and organic growing practices just like producers of organic foods. The upside of this is that you actually can demand higher prices to of set the cultivation of the grow.

    • Jason King on

      I dont trust those lab tests at all. I’ve seen identical samples sent to different labs and completely different results came up. Plus, they only test a tiny little sample, which could be clean, but a flower right next to it could be contaminated with something, and never tested. Best option, aside from growing your own, is to get it from a reputable farm that you trust, perhaps by talking with the farmers. More ‘organic’ like certifications in the cannabis world are truly needed and will come.

  7. Lawrence Goodwin on

    My condolences to the family. If the facts bear it out, it’s very sad this man had to be the one who proved that cannabis no longer has “zero deaths” attributed to its consumption. The legal cannabis industry (places like Steve DeAngelo’s Harborside and Women Grow) must act quickly to take full responsibility and address contamination problems to ensure total safety for all consumers. There’s no other way forward. Cannabis plants are supposed to be saving lives, not ending them.

      • Lawrence Goodwin on

        Thanks for reading. The “contaminants” were on cannabis flowers, and we know darned well how the critics will seize on this incident (and and others even remotely like it) to further demonize such flowers. The only solution is to weed out unscrupulous growers from all “legal” sales. They want to grow that crap faster by spraying poison and consume it themselves, they should be free do to so. They must not be allowed to sell it to the public anywhere (without certified, licensed laboratory testing and distribution—a potential of billions in trade, all properly regulated by government agencies, just like deadly alcohol and tobacco products are now).

  8. Lori Glauser on

    We also share our condolences. Fortunately, more cannabis testing is coming to California, and this is becoming a standard wherever MMJ is allowed. AB 266 Article 5 states “All licensees holding cultivation or manufacturing licenses shall send all cannabis . . .to a distributor for QA and batch testing prior to distribution to a dispensary”. SB 643 and AUMA state that the Department of Public Health will license and oversee the manufacturing and testing of medical cannabis.

    • Cactus Bill on

      I concur, and applaud California for taking front loaded regulatory steps to assure that the product will have a strong degree of quality oversight.
      I do acknowledge that there are many growers emerging from the Wild West days before legalization. Welcome to the sunshine, folks!
      There is plenty of money to be made.
      Our industry is – at least for now – transitioning into the realities of the open market.
      Hopefully, the Feds will allow that to continue.

  9. johnnybegood on

    I hope Marijuana Business Daily reports true cause of death in this case. Doctors have only suspected the cause of death to be fungus in cannabis. Most commenters comment like it is already fact.

  10. johnnybegood on

    Did any of the tests on the cannabis flower indicate the specific rare fungus found in patient? The rare fungus the doctors found is common in rat shit.

  11. Richardo on

    It makes sense…..I had Cancer 13 years ago….and if you do Chemo….it does completely wipe out your immune system. I think ALL Dispensaries should be required to test each and every sample batch coming into their stores…will that mean the medicine might be 1-3% higher in price? Probably….but well worth it! Last year 73% of ALL lab test showed pesticide residue in California lab samples…..So there is a ways to go on getting everyone on board growing “Organic” Non pesticide laden flower!

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