An alarming new report from researchers in Madrid has found that most illegal cannabis products sold there are contaminated with human fecal bacteria. They study says that the way drug traffickers smuggle and handle hash is responsible for the contamination. Some hash samples even smelled of human feces, according to researchers.
Scientists Say Most of Madrid’s Hash Contains Bacteria From Human Feces
With Spain’s harsh anti-drug laws, much of the hash sold on the streets of cities like Madrid has to be smuggled in. And for drug traffickers, there’s an easy way to do that. Just wrap up a swallowable amount of hash in some plastic wrap and ingest it. Then, when you’re across the border, take some laxatives to retrieve the stash. “And that’s what goes on sale,” says Pharmacist Manuel Pérez Moreno.
Pérez and a team of researchers with Complutense University just published the first scientific study of the cannabis resin sold on the streets of Madrid. And their report concludes that most, as in 88.3 percent, of the 90 hashish samples obtained for the study were not suitable for human consumption.
Breaking that down, researchers compared two common units of hash sold on Madrid streets. There’s the larger unit, called an ingot, and the smaller unit, called an acorn. Comparing the two, researchers found that 93 percent of the “acorns” they tested contained E. coli bacteria. But just 29.4 percent of the ingots, which are large and harder to swallow and pass, contained E. coli.
Escherichia coli bacteria live in the intestines of mammals. Most are harmless, but some can cause serious bouts of diarrhea, severe abdominal cramps, hemorrhaging and vomiting. But the hash samples tested in the study didn’t just contain traces: they contained significant quantities of fecal bacteria. According to Pérez’s report, each gram of cannabis resin contained 500 times the maximum amount of E. coli allowed by U.S. marijuana regulations.
Furthermore, the study concluded that 10 percent of all the samples contained a species of mold, aspergillus, that can trigger serious infections.
Street Hash Poses Serious Public Health Risk in Spain
Shitty weed isn’t just disgusting. It also poses significant health risks to the general population. Spain’s Ministry of Health reports that 31 percent of the country’s population between ages 15 and 64 admits to using cannabis. And as cannabis’ popularity as a therapeutic drug grows, more Spaniards are looking to buy from street dealers. For example, “in recent years there has been an increase in the number of people with cancer who smoke cannabis with the intention of reducing the side effects of chemotherapy,” Pérez said.
But cancer patients and other folks turning to cannabis as medicine may suffer from weakened immune systems. And that makes the bacterial contamination of most street cannabis a serious, potentially lethal risk.
Most people smoke hash by rolling it up with tobacco and smoking it. If people use a filter at all, it’s likely hollow. And that means, according to Pérez, that “not only do you suck the smoke, you also suck particles.” As in, poop particles. Or mold spores. Nasty, dangerous stuff.