For immunocompromised patients, it can be dangerous to assume that because medical cannabis is legal throughout most of the United States and that it can be bought in dispensaries, that it is safe. However, the only thing that can deem medical cannabis as safe is full spectrum lab testing.
Your average patient probably doesn’t care much about lab tested cannabis. People have been consuming cannabis for centuries without it being lab tested. So why is it so important that lab testing is done on medical cannabis now? Answer: The immunocompromised patient.
Patients consume medical cannabis for a variety of reasons such as epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, eating disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, depression, glaucoma, nausea, anxiety, pain, PTSD, and more. Some patients use medical cannabis for the treatment of diseases that compromise their immune systems. Patients on chemo or radiation, malnourished patients, uncontrolled diabetics, those with AIDS, immune complex diseases, autoimmune disorders, etc., for these people with compromised immune systems moldy or contaminated cannabis can lead to major complications like infection or pneumonia and it can even lead to death.
Immunocompromised people are often advised to avoid exposure to soil, plants, and cut flowers due to the presence of microbes. Think of an intensive care unit where flowers and plants are not allowed because the patients in those units are likely to be immunocompromised and exposure to certain microbes could have serious consequences for these patients. So how do immunocompromised patients know which medical cannabis won’t harm them? Answer: Lab testing!
Full spectrum lab testing will reveal any contaminants such as mold, fungus, yeast, chemical residues, heavy metals, pesticides, mycotoxins, and E. coli. Lab testing allows cannabis professionals to proudly stand behind their product as one that won’t harm immunocompromised patients.
Even though most contaminants are only detectable by lab testing inspection prior to purchase is very important. Inspection of medical cannabis before purchase will let a patient know if there are possible contaminants in the cannabis. Patients should check for things such as the dryness of the cannabis. Moist cannabis can be a breeding ground for microbes. Gently squeezing the bud can give the patient an idea of the moisture content of the cannabis. Another way to check for dry cannabis is by breaking the stem, the stem should break not bend. Patients should look at the color of the cannabis, looking for any fuzzy green or gray areas that could indicate mold or mildew.
Cannabis is well-known for its potent smells, one thing you do not want your cannabis to smell like is fresh cut grass. This is a sign that the cannabis has not been dried properly and as stated above moist cannabis is a breeding ground for microbes. Cannabis should generally smell Pleasant any strong musky or mildew odors are signs of contamination. The patient should always perform an inspection of cannabis before purchase with or without lab testing results being available. Most importantly patients should trust their guts. If something doesn’t seem right then it probably isn’t.
In conclusion, medical cannabis professionals should be willing to provide full spectrum lab testing reports on all their products to ensure the safety of patients. Immunocompromised patients that choose medical cannabis as treatment should be demanding lab-tested cannabis, their lives depend on it.
About The Author
Christy Sintic, RN is a patient advocate that has been in nursing for 22 years, 15 years as an RN. She is currently working independently as a cannabis nurse doing independent consultations and education for patients and cannabis professionals throughout Oklahoma. She is also a cannabis advocate, cultivator, and patient herself. Christy currently sits on the board of the Oklahoma Cannabis Nurses Association to assist with patient advocacy, education, and advancing cannabis as a medicine.
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