Am I a crazy hypochondriac or just a careful person?
October 7, 2013 3:34 PM   Subscribe

Last night I consumed some Marijuana, which upon further inspection, seems to be rather moldy. After researching the types of mold that it could be, and the effects of that mold, I am rather worried that I may have given myself a rather dangerous fungal infection. I do not have health insurance. I need to try to figure out what to do, please help! Anyone who knows about medicine or fungi would be especially appreciated!

All the information I can give:

1) The Marijuana had been stored in a prescription pill bottle, in a cool dark bottom drawer of a desk in my basement. I'd guess it had been there 2-6 months.

2) Given a cursory glance, it appeared that the buds were very crystally (which is desired) but upon further inspection, it appears that some of these "crystals" are in fact white/clearish specs of mold.

When I flick one of the remaining buds with my finger, a cloud of dark grey / black spores comes off of it.

3) Given some cursory internet detective work, I believe I have identified the mold as Mucor - the wikipedia picture looks much like the "crystals" on the bud, long strands with dots at the top

4) It seems as though Mucor infections are very very dangerous - I am reading that it has a 50% mortality rate.

5) My nose / sinuses have had a dull ache for most of today, and I have been having to clear my throat and spit mucus much more often than usual.


I do not have extra money right now to indulge hypochondriac paranoia. I would normally tough it out in a situation like this. However, this particular infection seems to be very dangerous, and early detection is important. What do I do?

Further questions:

Is there any way, with the buds that are left over, to determine exactly which fungus it was?

What is my "red line" to go to the doctor? I have been reading that the symptoms would be similar to a sinus infection, with sinus pain and headache. After smoking last night, and waking this morning, I do feel those symptoms very vaguely. The front of my face has been hurting, I have felt a little under the weather. But again, I could just be overthinking things after reading about all of the dangers online.
posted by ejfox to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is it possible you might be just a little... paranoid right now?
posted by entropicamericana at 3:37 PM on October 7, 2013 [22 favorites]

Response by poster: That is an excellent question! The only thing that would lead me to smoke months-old Marijuana would be a lack thereof, and since discovering the mold, I have not smoked anymore.

So, clear-headed paranoia at the moment.
posted by ejfox at 3:38 PM on October 7, 2013

i wouldn't give it a second thought. 99% of the things we worry about never happen. mold spores, if any, were likely incinerated by the flame. i, uh, know people who have smoked dodgy bud with no ill effects. srsly, have you ever heard of anyone who had to be hospitalized for smoking improperly stored marijuana?
posted by bruce at 3:45 PM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

If I can be so bold.... Mary-ju-wanna always made me paranoid. I liked smoking it except for that. If you are like me, you will find something to worry about every time you smoke it, which means, it's probably not for you. Go have a drink because it's not going to get any better.
posted by brownrd at 3:48 PM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Did you read all of the wikipidia article you linked, or just the scary bits? Because this bit jumped out at me:

Mucormycosis is a very rare infection, and as such it is hard to note histories of patients and incidence of the infection.[6] However, one American oncology center revealed that mucormycosis was found in 0.7% of autopsies and roughly 20 patients per every 100,000 admissions to that center.[10] In the United States, mucormycosis was most commonly found in rhinocerebral form, almost always with hyperglycemia and metabolic acidosis.[11] In most cases the patient is immunocompromised, although rare cases have occurred in which the subject was not; these are usually due to a traumatic inoculation of fungal spores.

I'm no doctor, but do you have AIDS? Did you smash the spores into your open wounds? If not, I would be gobsmacked if you have mucormycosis.
posted by craven_morhead at 3:50 PM on October 7, 2013 [13 favorites]

Oh, and these bits from your first wikipidia link:"Mucor is a microbial genus of approximately 3000 species of moulds..." "Most species of Mucor are unable to infect humans and endothermic animals due to their inability to grow in warm environments close to 37 degrees Celsius."

So, to add to the questions above, are you a human or an endothermic animal? Then even if you properly identified the mold, it is probably harmless.
posted by craven_morhead at 3:52 PM on October 7, 2013 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: mold spores, if any, were likely incinerated by the flame.
One concern I have is that I smoked mine in a spliff, where I would be pulling the smoke back through non-burned plant matter, potentially just inhaling on a straw of spores with fire on the end.


The only reason I'm freaking out about this is because of the risk-to-reward ratio. If I don't pursue treatment and I'm wrong, it really really sucks, and is possibly fatal. If I do pursue treatment, and it is a non-problem (which I agree is probably the more likely situation) I am down an uncertain amount of money. I think I am having trouble weighing that equation.


I do love hearing reasons why I'd be wrong though, it is making me feel better. Thanks!
posted by ejfox at 3:59 PM on October 7, 2013

Best answer: Your nose having a dull ache after smoking pot isn't a symptom of pending mortality. Your nose probably aches more than it normally would because you are contemplating that you might have a life threatening condition, so every errant sensation is interpreted as a possible symptom of a disease you possibly think you might have and are gathering evidence about.

From one hypochondriac to another, you are likely not to be dying of an obscure fungal infection. Distract yourself and seek medical treatment when and only when the others you were smoking with call to let you know they are in the emergency room (which won't happen). Limit your worrying/obsessive thinking to after you have received this call (which won't come) or you have had a seizure or some other intense medical symptom (hyperventilating doesn't count). Until then chill out.

Risk-to-reward ratio doesn't justify hypochondria. I could be sitting here thinking that I have AIDS and metastasized cancer and that I need to get an MRI on all my body parts to find the cancer. If I turn out correct, I will have gained the benefit of early detection. If I am wrong, I have wasted a lot of my energy worrying about something fantastical. You are at high risk of wasting your time and energy.
posted by mermily at 4:05 PM on October 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

IANAphysician, IANYN. It is very unlikely that any wayward mold spores you might have inhaled have developed into a full-blown infection overnight. It is very likely that your nose and sinuses are inflamed because they are irritated from smoke and dehydration. A cold or allergies are less likely than residual irritation from smoking, but are still vastly more likely than a fungal infection.
If you want to be picky about it, it's much much more likely that what's on your pot is Aspergillus, which will grow on practically anything organic at the right humidity and temperature. Aspergillosis is also a big deal but unless you are severely immunocompromised, it's profoundly unlikely.

I am all about recommending people see doctors for everything they AskMe about, but this is one where I gotta say - wait a few days and see if your sinus pain worsens. (Even if it does, my money's on run-of-the-mill viral or allergic sinusitis.)

Oh, and throw that pot away.
posted by gingerest at 4:08 PM on October 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

Relax, man, find your neutral space. You got a rush. It will pass. Be seated.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:09 PM on October 7, 2013 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Completely unscientific here, but the air traveling through a spliff is freaking superheated. If you roll one with some non plant matter in it(say, hash) and put it out halfway through then unwrap it and investigate,you'll find that it will be seriously "melted" and deformed. If there's gaps underneath the paper, the hot air flowing through can also burn the shit out of your fingers.

I haven't taken a laser thermometer to a hot spot half way down the side of one, nor have i hooked one up to some kind of suction pump and tested the temp of the exhaust gases right at the "nozzle". But it's not just the 220f or so hair dryer type of temps, it's high at the exit point. And possibly even higher internally.

If heat can kill/destroy/make ineffective mold, then i'm wondering what temperatures above and beyond what would occur inside an ignited joint/spliff would need to exist. Because as with small candle flames being higher than bon fires you're concentrating smoldering just on the edge of flames in a small spot, and then channeling the exhaust from that through a tiny tube without a chance to cool. You're also raising the temperature when you take a toke by bringing the smolder up to both a higher temp and a larger surface area. It's probably somewhere just under 450c/842f. Especially since rolling papers can randomly ignite again while smoking. It could possibly even be higher since i'm not 100% sure that marijuana or tobacco have the same ignition point, or the ignition point of a lot of other things. The smolder point might be higher, possibly.

See what i'm getting at here? I'd be incredibly surprised if whatever it was wasn't incinerated by being inside that miniature blast furnace of inebriation.

*I am not a scientist, i am not your scientist, this is not science advice. I did a bit of googling to verify what i'm saying and it seems plausible/to check out/etc but i am not an expert on things combusting and such.
posted by emptythought at 4:15 PM on October 7, 2013

I am immunocompromised, and I wouldn't worry about this even if it was me. First of all, mold on weed is, as gingerest says, most likely Aspergillus. Second of all, you set that shit on fire.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:47 PM on October 7, 2013 [5 favorites]

Are you immunocompromised or otherwise at known high risk of opportunistic infections? If so, get checked out, not necessarily urgently. If not, I wouldn't worry unless you start to develop truly worrying symptoms.
posted by WasabiFlux at 4:57 PM on October 7, 2013

Best answer: IAA hypochondriac due to OCD, and have been treated for it on and off for years.

Yes, you're a hypochondriac. At least, you are in this case. You sound just like I do when I'm worried about some total bullshit.
posted by Coatlicue at 5:07 PM on October 7, 2013 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks guys, I feel a lot better! Love you Metafilter!
posted by ejfox at 5:24 PM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have heard, anecdotally, from respiratory physicians of cases of infection from people smoking black-market tobacco that had not been properly prepared and became mouldy. You are breathing in mould spores, and whatever heat is in the cigarette is not necessarily enough to eliminate all signs of life.

That is just me being contrary to emptythought above to say I have heard of it happening.

However, that being said, I will reiterate whatever people have said earlier: it is really difficult for an immunocompetent person to get an invasive fungal infection, and it probably hasn't happened overnight! If you start to get sick over the next week or two definitely get checked out and mention this exposure, but you're most likely fine! You've inhaled much more mould in your life from your bathroom.
posted by chiquitita at 7:14 PM on October 7, 2013

it's high at the exit point. And possibly even higher internally.

This is so, so true.

So true.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:31 PM on October 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

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