Sometimes cannabis can contain more than their potent psychoactive oils. They may also have fecal matter, according to a new Spanish study.
Pharmacologist Jose Manuel Moreno Perez studied 90 samples of cannabis resins he collected across Madrid, the country's capital.
Based on his analysis, three-fourths had traces of Aspergillus fungus and E. coli bacteria. About 40 percent of these still bore the fecal odor.
The Methods And Results
Hashish, which the Spanish calls chocolate, is illegal in the country unless it's for private growing and personal use. For the research, Perez had to covertly ask for a supply by going into different bars, suburbs, and the streets.
Using his own money, he bought 90 of the cannabis resins from various sources. Some of these were known as bellotas or those wrapped in plastic "acorns." The others were ingots.
He then analyzed the composition and found 93 percent of these bellotas had high levels of E. coli. The amount present in every gram of it was even 500 times more than the maximum established for marijuana by the United States.
About 10 percent contained Aspergillus, which can weaken immune systems and lead to severe allergic reactions and infections. About 88 percent were not fit for human consumption.
Why Is There Fecal Matter?
The idea that cannabis resins, at least in the streets of Madrid, can contain fecal matter is disgusting, but Perez believes it has something to do with the delivery route and where the product came from.
Most of the acorn-wrapped hashish, which had the highest levels of fecal bacteria, might have come from Morocco. There, drug mules would swallow the pellets, neutralizing their stomach acids with yogurt.
When they arrive in Spain, they will then consume laxative so they can expel the cannabis resins from their body.
In contrast, only 29.4 percent of the bricks or ingots showed high traces of feces. Most of these arrived in the country through speedboats.
Fear For Public Health
Some experts believe the study is small to be conclusive. For Perez and his team, his research, now published in Forensic Science International, is a wakeup call to the possible dangers of cannabis to human health.
"The quantities of bacteria that we found are appalling. The problem is not just inhalation. Hashish is constantly manipulated [by users] with their hands," said Inmaculada Santos, the study's co-author.
For those who believe they can get rid of the fecal microorganisms with combustion, Perez reminded them there's no filter in cannabis. They, therefore, inhale not only smoke but also the particles.