Cannabis Fungal Endophytes and Why Viability Testing Increases Patient Risk



December 16, 2019

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  • Cannabis microbial testing presents unique challenges. Unlike food testing, cannabis testing has to consider various routes of administration beyond just oral administration. Cannabis flowers produce high concentrations of antimicrobial cannabinoids and terpenoids and thus represent a different matrix than traditional foods. In 2018, it is estimated that 50% of cannabis is consumed via vaporizing or smoking oils and flowers while the other half is consumed in Marijuana Infused Products or MIPs. There are also transdermal patches, salves, and suppositories that all present different microbial considerations. Several recent publications have surveyed cannabis flower microbiological communities. These have detected several concerning genus and species such as Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus terreus, Penicillium paxilli and Penicillium citrinum, Clostridium botulinum, Eschericia coli, Salmonella and Staphyloocccus. There are several documented cannabis complications and even fatalities due to Aspergillosis in immuno-compromised patients. A recent paper even demonstrates a case of cannabis-derived Aspergillosis in an immune competent patient1. Many of these pathogens are Cannabis endophytes (live inside the plant) and are difficult to survey without lysing open cells. Lysed cells are not viable and thus the pursuit of sensitivity for cannabis pathogens is directly orthoganol to maintaining viability in microbial detection assays.

    Analytical TechniquesCannabis ScienceMass SpectrometryMicrobiology

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