Moldy cannabis allegations draw ire of some Missouri operators

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A Missouri microbiologist who posts online photos of regulated cannabis that allegedly contains mold has received three cease-and-desist letters from cannabis producers in the state.

Kirk Hartwein, the director of Missouri Mold, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he publishes the photos to Facebook because he is concerned about the health and well-being of medical cannabis consumers.

According to the newspaper, Hartwein’s Facebook page contains “dozens of close-up photos of petri dishes, many covered in mold colonies, to his Facebook page this year.”

Hartwein said he obtains and tests cannabis samples from licensed retailers in Missouri.

Christina Thompson of the ShowMe Canna Freedom advocacy group, told the Post-Dispatch she doesn’t believe Hartwein is “doing this maliciously.”

“I think that it highlights a pretty specific concern that all the people in our community have about safe cannabis and safe consumption,” she said.

States take different approaches to setting lab-testing standards and requirements for marijuana because, under ongoing federal prohibition, there are no national standards.

The requirements in states such as Maine and Oregon are still under debate.

Hartwein told the Post-Dispatch that Missouri’s rules don’t set limits for total mold and yeast counts.

However, the state’s labs are required to test for four types of aspergillus mold, which can be harmful to people with compromised immune systems.