The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) came under fire last week after receiving  customer complaints that the weed purchased from the online store contained mold. The OCS has issued a voluntary recall for “Product B.E.C. 3.5 gram dried flower by Redecan, Lot 4B2L3”, after receiving five different complaints about moldy weed from their shop. The recall was classified as a Type II recall, which means the risk of adverse reactions is moderate. This could be some consolation for those upset or worried about consuming potentially moldy cannabis from the OCS.

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Users who noticed mold on their weed from the Ontario Cannabis Store took to this Reddit thread to point out the evidence. Others in the thread claimed to check their stash after seeing the post, and found their flower to be contaminated as well. No reports of anyone becoming sick from smoking the moldy weed have surfaced.

The Federal Government of Ontario legalized recreational cannabis on October 17th, 2018, making Canada the second country to legalize marijuana. The legal age for adults in Quebec and Alberta is 18, and the rest of the country is legal at the age of 19. Legal cannabis sales have offered a lot of relief for consumers who felt uneasy purchasing their marijuana elsewhere. Knowing the herb came from a licensed seller, complete with a product description and details on the strain is usually reassuring. That is, unless you bring your flower home only to find it’s covered in mold.

mold growth on cannabis inflorescence iStock / OlegMalyshev

Moldy Cannabis

We’ve all encountered mold in its most inconvenient forms, where we have to throw away the fruit we promised we’d eat, or sneakily cut off the moldy piece of bread and hope the rest of the loaf is okay. Finding mold on your cannabis is a big red flag, so if you find some, be sure to inspect the rest of your stash and avoid smoking it.

Exposure to mold can cause unpleasant and dangerous reactions to humans. Coughing, wheezing, irritation of throat and eyes, and headaches are all common responses to being exposed to mold. These reactions can happen wherever mold spores occur, which naturally, can be about anywhere.

Mold thrives in dark, moist, and damp conditions. Mold spores are natural, and small amounts tend to go unnoticed. With moldy weed, the spore count increases, and smoking can infect your lungs and hurt even those with strong immune systems as the exposure is so direct.

A common type of mold found indoors and outdoors is Aspergillus. These spores are common in conditions where mold thrives, and usually do not harm people who have healthy immune systems. Avoiding exposure to this mold is probably impossible given its prevalence. Those with weakened immune systems need to take care to avoid these spores, as inhalation can cause a lung or sinus infection.

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Marijuana plant with mold up close. iStock / HighGradeRoots

If exposure to mold can affect those with weakened immune systems, you can bet smoking it will cause extra harm as you’re directly inhaling the spores into your lungs with intention. While nobody has died just from overdosing on cannabis, there have been documented cases of users dying from aspergillosis, the dangerous condition resulting from inhaling Aspergillus spores. According to the report, “(s)moking marijuana affects the lungs structurally but may also affect them immunologically, by affecting alveolar macrophages. This may predispose marijuana users to pulmonary infection”.

The manufacturer of the cannabis sold at the OCS, Redecan, claims that all of their products are tested before reaching the market. They’ve stated that they sampled each batch from lot 4B2L3, the batch with the complaints, and found no evidence of mold during testing. How it happened is unclear, but they still volunteered to recall all products from that lot as a precaution.

The Ontario Cannabis Store

The Ontario Cannabis Store has been through a lot since the legalization of weed in Canada. And if you bought legal weed in Ontario, you can be certain it came from the Oregon Cannabis Store. Go ahead and check your stash before lighting up again. That is, if you’ve even received your package yet.

While the legalization of recreational marijuana helped unite Canada, the province of Ontario was left with the short end of the stick for now. Ontario plans to set up a highly regulated system for retailers to sell recreational cannabis, but this is not expected to take effect until April of 2019. Until then, there is one place to get your legal marijuana in Ontario, and that is the Ontario Cannabis Store, which is only available online.

Ontario made some last minute changes as legalization rolled out, a result of their more conservative lawmakers. For now, they are selling recreational marijuana through the privately-run pot shop Ontario Cannabis Store. You can only order weed in Ontario online, as plans to let others open shop will not start until spring of 2019. If you want cannabis in Ontario, you have to order it online through directly through the OCS.

Waiting for a marijuana delivery can be a bit annoying, but it’s the price you have to pay if you want to legally toke up in Ontario. Unluckily for the Ontario residents waiting patiently for their package of legal cannabis, the Canadian postal strike started up around the same time as the newly-legal cannabis sales.

Packages are backlogged, and many buyers are unhappy with the current situation for cannabis in Ontario. According to a poll by Ipsos, a global research firm, Ontario cannabis buyers are the most frustrated with marijuana sales, and most likely to be disappointed with delivery times for receiving their weed.

The Ontario Cannabis store has been down on their luck since opening. According to Global News in Canada, the store received over 150,000 orders the first week of legalization. They were unable to keep up with the demand, and became backlogged, adding more backup to the delivery times. This was an unlucky pair with the timing of the Canadian postal strike, which further delayed orders.

They also experienced a security breach from the Canada Post, where about 4,500 customers had their delivery information hacked and exposed. This has left more people feeling hopeless about the marijuana situation in Ontario.