A New Jersey medical cannabis patient found mold in NJ Curaleaf cannabis he bought from Rise dispensary in Paterson.
The patient, named Carlos, preferred not to divulge his last name, bought a strain called Banana Foster from Rise in Paterson, NJ, which they had bought wholesale from Curaleaf. Carlos said it seemed repackaged.
He said that inside, there was mold inside the cannabis flower, having grown inside it. Moisture was likely trapped inside the flower, which caused the mold to form. Carlos said it only takes a day to grow like that.
The bottle said it was packaged on December 22nd. Carlos said he found the mold around the 23rd.
Carlos believes it was repackaged since Curaleaf flower normally comes in a bag instead of a bottle. It was strange there was mold in a recently packaged bottle. He only found the mold halfway through smoking it.
“When I called them and said I smoked half of this and found this bud full of mold, the girl at the desk said … I’m sure it’s fine,” Carlos recounted. “They told me I could bring it back and exchange or get my money back.”
He said that the moldy Curaleaf cannabis caused him to cough a lot. Carlos called his medical cannabis prescribing doctor, who said he needed to get a blood test. However, it was not easy to find a specialist to test for mold in his blood, so he did not pursue it further.
“I’ve been coughing ever since, more than normal when I smoke,” he said. Carlos also reported getting a headache from it.
He reached out to Curaleaf but never heard back from them.
Carlos said his best luck was with cannabis delivered by NJ Green Direct.
“This is more of a reason why people should be able to grow their own,” Carlos said. “I never had moldy weed before.
He said if you have mold where you’re growing, the mold spores can be spread by a fan.
“The manager at Rise told me that they have had a lot of problems with Curaleaf bud and I wasn’t the first complaint, and Curaleaf has a reputation like that,” Carlos said.
He has been a patient for a year.
“I used to go to Harmony and never had a problem,” Carlos said. However, he lamented it has become very crowded.
Assistant Commissioner for Medicinal Marijuana Jeff Brown said in an email regarding moldy cannabis, “If a patient was dispensed product with mold on it, it would be a clear regulatory violation of NJAC 8:64-10.7,” which regulates medical cannabis and says,
“§ 8:64-10.7 Processing and packaging of marijuana
(a) An ATC shall process marijuana in a safe and sanitary manner to protect registered qualifying patients from adulterated marijuana and shall process the dried leaves and flowers of the female marijuana plant only, which shall be:
1. Well cured and free of seeds and stems;
2. Free of dirt, sand, debris, or other foreign matter; and
3. Free of mold, rot or other fungus or bacterial diseases.”
“When the state lab tests cannabis, there is a visual inspection for mold or other foreign matter,” Brown explained. “We test for aflatoxin and mycotoxin, which are bi-products of certain molds. Additionally, our inspectors are on-site at least monthly to do inspections of cultivation operations to ensure compliance with all rules, including 8:64-10.7.”
“If a patient believes there is mold on their product, they should report it to us at the Department so that we can investigate,” he added.
“Curaleaf stands by the quality of our products and we implement strict quality assurance inspections and protocols prior to our product being packaged and sold,” a spokesperson for Curaleaf said. “This is an isolated incident, and we have not received any other complaints about this product. If the patient can reach out to us, we’d be happy to provide them with a credit or exchange.”
NJ Curaleaf Issues
It was not the first time that the quality of medical cannabis in New Jersey has been called into question.
Curaleaf’s New Jersey operation has been plagued by allegations their cannabis is sub-par for the exorbitant cost. The federal government also fined them for labor law violations. The problem is worse than it seems since they supply other dispensaries in New Jersey. Curaleaf is currently supplying Rise in Paterson and Garden State Dispensary with medical cannabis flower.
A cannabis science expert, though not a doctor, said the severity of the issue depends on what type or types of mold the person ingested, quantity/concentration of that mold, mode of ingestion, all paired up against the person’s immune system. Swallowed or inhaled could be an issue for a person. If inhaled, it can be serious and lead to severe health issues, like pneumonia.
Mold on cannabis can be very concentrated. There are different varieties of mold, including Aspergillus, Botrytis, Penicillium, and Cladosporium. Powdery mildew impacting cannabis late in the flower stages can ruin a crop.
He recommended an individual dealing with this should ask their primary care physician.
The issue was first brought to light by the Garden State Cannabis Crew Facebook and Instagram account.