MADRID, SPAIN (Gray News) – Most cannabis sold in Madrid, Spain, is not suitable for human consumption, creating a possible public health issue in the country.
Researchers tested 90 samples obtained in the Spanish capital and found that 88 percent was contaminated with harmful bacteria found in fecal matter.
Their findings were published in the journal ScienceDirect.
Manuel Perez Moreno, a co-author of the study, told El Pais, a Spanish newspaper, cannabis contamination may be a result of how the drug makes it into the country.
Perez said drug traffickers in Morocco wrap the hashish in transparent film and ingest them.
“Once they arrive in Spain, they take laxatives to expel the acorns. And that’s what goes on sale,” said Perez, who added that 40 percent of the sample acorns actually smelled of feces.
Perez said the amount of fecal matter is 500 times higher than the maximum limit set by U.S. and European legislation for fruit and tea.
In Spain, residents can legally grow cannabis for personal consumption, but selling the plant is illegal. Spanish cannabis smokers mainly use marijuana grass, hashish (resin, smoked by 17%) or a mix of both (30%), according to El Pais.
Researchers also found a link between the shape of the cannabis strain (acorn vs. ingot shapes) and the contamination levels.
“Foreign elements were found in 64.7% of the ingot-shaped samples and in 30.2% of the acorn-shaped samples,” researchers said. “With regard to microbiological contamination, 93% of acorns were contaminated by E. coli, compared to 29.4% of ingots. In addition, all samples with fecal odor were acorns and were contaminated by E. coli.”
Escherichia coli is a bacteria normally found in the intestines, but nasty strains can cause bloody diarrhea, cramps and vomiting.
Aspergillus, a type of mold, was also found in samples. The fungus can cause infection in the lung and gastrointestinal diseases.
In the U.S., 33 states and the District of Columbia currently have passed laws legalizing marijuana in some form.