Street cannabis 'contains large amount of faeces', new study finds

Street cannabis 'contains large amount of faeces', new study finds

A new scientific study has discovered that the majority of cannabis sold on the streets of Madrid contains faeces, and poses a serious health risk to people who consume it.

The study, entitled: 'Cannabis Resin in the Region of Madrid: Adulteration and Contamination', which was reported in the journal Forensic Science International, analysed 90 samples of cannabis resin sourced from dealers on the streets of the capital of Spain, from Majadonda to Alcobendas, was conducted by a team at Complutense University.

The research team separated the cannabis samples by shape, with some of them resembling 'acorns' and 'ingots' to see what form of the cannabis are more contaminated than the other.

An image of someone cutting leaves. Credit: Getty

Analysing the components of the cannabis samples, the researchers learned that 93 per cent of the acorn samples contained dangerous levels of E.coli bacteria. Meanwhile, the ingot-shaped samples contained approximately 29.4 per cent, and a further 10 per cent of the cannabis samples were contaminated with the fungus Aspergillus, which can cause serious health problems.

Manuel Pérez Moreno, a pharmacist at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and co-author of the study, stated: "Once they arrive in Spain, they take laxatives to expel the acorns. And that’s what goes on sale. Hashish is being manipulated in the hands constantly. The filters of the joints are hollow. Not only do you suck the smoke you also suck particles."

The study's abstract noted: "Overall, our results showed that most (88.3 per cent) of the hashish samples were not suitable for consumption. Hence, illegal street vending of hashish constitutes a public health issue ... 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. These patients have weakened immune systems, so an infection caused by the consumption of contaminated or adulterated hashish could be fatal."

Pérez also theorised that the faecal contamination has come about through drug dealers and drug mules smuggling drugs into the country by consuming plastic pellets, which they swallow and then excrete later.

An image of cannabis. Credit: Getty

Furthermore, the study adds that the risks associated with E.coli and Aspergillus are bad enough to be considered a public health issue. E. coli is often a benign form of bacteria. But certain strains, such as E. coli O157:H7, can be deadly and cause severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhoea and vomiting. Meanwhile, inhaling Aspergillus mould could prove fatal for those people with lung conditions or breathing problem. It adds that the contamination is particularly concerning for cancer patients, who are sometimes prescribed medicinal marijuana to help them get through chemotherapy.