Doctors thought he would beat his cancer, but a fungal infection in his lungs ended up killing a young California man before he could finish his fight against the disease. Researchers later discovered his legally prescribed medical marijuana was to blame for his untimely death.
According to Dr. Joseph Tuscano of the University of California, Davis Cancer Center, the dispensary told the patient that inhaling an aerosolized blend of marijuana would be safer than smoking it. Instead of easing his symptoms, the drug caused the incurable lung infection. After he died, researchers tested 20 samples of medical marijuana from distributors across the state and found that a majority of the samples were contaminated with dangerous bacteria and fungi.
This case raises a huge concern about medical marijuana. With more than half of all states allowing some kind of medical usage, it is important to note that this “medication” has been allowed to infiltrate medical treatment without going through the FDA’s rigorous testing and approval process. This makes it different than any other prescribed drug out there.
“Unfortunately, this is the beginning of what we have been warning people about over the past several months,” said Nina French of the Current Consulting Group. “Legalized marijuana, for both medicinal and recreational purposes provides no dosage information. Little is known about its contents, and its manufacturing process is highly unregulated. We know less about the ingredients and contaminants in the medical marijuana prescribed to sick individuals, who are often immunocompromised, than we do about administering aspirin or Girl Scout cookies for that matter.”
In addition to the worry about microorganisms invading the medical marijuana supply, there are man-made issues as well. The NBC4 I-Team in Los Angeles bought 44 samples from dispensaries across the state. Testing showed that 93 percent of the samples contained high levels of pesticides that were well above safety limits. It is just another example of how this industry is being allowed to operate outside of all rules and regulations imposed on other consumables.
According to French, things may get worse before the issue gets the attention it deserves. “This is the beginning of what we suspect will be many thousands of cases where marijuana’s unique path to legalization is going to cost lives and money.”
Some states do have requirements for the growing of medical marijuana, but they vary widely. While it is unlikely that a healthy person would be harmed by the contaminants, the majority of the supply is earmarked for the sick and dying – the very people who are most likely to be affected. This rush to legalize without any forethought, research or regulation might bring more heartache than help unless both local and federal governments step up quickly to find a solution.
Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.