Germs are everywhere. They’re unavoidable, but don’t freak out; they’re a totally normal part of living and your immune system will protect you from most of them. However, there’s a pressing germ concern unique to the cannabis community: group consumption of pipes and joints.
A recent study conducted by Los Angeles-based Moose Labs found that cannabis pipes, vapes, and joints all have “an astounding level of bacteria.” It went on to state that it was difficult to find a neutral everyday item that matched its levels of bacteria. The analysis produced significantly higher-than-expected results. In all, the average cannabis pipe was found to have “almost one and a half times more bacteria than a public toilet seat.”
The report concluded that each person should use a mouthpiece when consuming. The findings support using a product like a disposable or washable mouthpiece with a filter, like one that Moose Labs offers. This is a point the company’s co-founder Jay Rush said the study sought out to prove.
“It really is just absolutely horrifying,” Rush said about the findings. “I almost feel bad telling people, but would you rather be informed and upset or uninformed and blissfully ignorant?”
hristopher Carrubba, MD explained why cannabis consumption devices can become so contaminated. He cited biofilm formation as the cause. “Marijuana itself can be a host to numerous bacterial and fungal organisms and contaminated bong water can similarly serve as a host for bacteria, candida, and other types of fungi,” he said.
“As these organisms grow, they secrete substances that allow them to cling to certain physical objects such as plastic or glass within a bong. The accumulation of these secretions leads to the formation of a biofilm that serves to protect these organisms and to facilitate their ongoing proliferation.”
Dr. Carrubba went on to note that biofilms are resistant to standard cleaning solutions and antimicrobial agents: “Once a biofilm forms, bacterial and fungal contaminants may persist even after a basic washing of the bong.”
He added that some of the more common microbial organisms and their potential risks include:
- Aspergillosis — When burned, the fungal organism aspergillosis releases mycotoxins that can gather in bong water and be inhaled later on. This can potentially cause a cough or chest pain and can lead to pulmonary disease.
- Pseudomonas — This bacterial organism can cause acute pneumonia and sepsis. It is difficult to treat, often requiring antimicrobial therapy for long periods.
- Flavobacterium — This bacteria is found in sources of stagnant water like an unclean bong. An infection can lead to pulmonary symptoms and diarrhea.
- Streptococcus species — A common bacteria usually found on the skin and in the oral and respiratory tract. It is responsible for infections such as strep throat, pneumonia, ear infections and other unpleasant medical results.
- E. coli — E. coli can also be found in the cannabis plant, as well as human and animal feces. Exposure to E. coli can turn into symptoms, including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
There was once a time when marijuana wasn’t as readily available as it is today. So beggars couldn’t be choosers.
If there was a joint or a bong being passed around and you wanted to catch a little buzz, there was no other option but to jump inside the stoner soiree and swap spit with a bunch of people that could have had leprosy for all you know.
But in this day and age, the cannabis industry is producing a variety of pot products that ensure the stoner class never has to take a hit after another smoker again.
Only 5 percent of the cannabis smokers in this study used an alcohol wipe before hitting a smoking device, researchers said.
Considering that herpes can spread by smoking weed with other people, you’d think that more of high society would want to protect themselves.
But they don’t.
Researchers at Moose Labs said that while it is impossible for humankind to escape all of the despicable bacteria that has been sent here by the gods of the universe to destroy us, cannabis users possess a special brand of “I don’t give a fuck.”
Those looking to protect themselves further may want to consider Dr. Carrubaa’s advice that includes cleaning the bong with boiling water after each use. Other measures include properly drying the bong after washing, a weekly cleaning with rubbing alcohol, and cleaning your hands before using your piece.