Aspergillus and Organ Transplants

AspergillusAspergillus is a common fungus found on plants, including herbs and food crops. It can be harmful if ingested, although toxic exposure is rare. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “most people breathe in Aspergillus spores every day without getting sick.” Aspergillus can be found cannabis flowers that were improperly cured or stored while still damp. Cannabis that is properly cured and stored is unlikely to be contaminated.

There is a single published case that links Aspergillus consumption with the death of a 34-year old bone marrow transplant patient. (Chest, Hamadeh, 988 Aug;94(2):432-3).  ASA California Director Don Duncan talked with the author of that report. Dr. Hamadeh, on the telephone in March of 2015. She said that Aspergillosis, a clinical infection resulting from exposure to the Aspergillus, is extremely rare, despite the fact that the fungus is ubiquitous.

Numerous professional testing laboratories are now testing legal medical cannabis for contaminates, and routine screening for microorganisms would detect Aspergillus and a wide range of other natural contaminates. No unusual equipment or expertise is necessary to detect Aspergillus. Laboratories can and do screen for it today. Doctors can and should recommend that patients with an immune system compromised by illness or anti-rejection medication consume only laboratory tested medical cannabis.

The risk of being denied a life-saving organ transplant far outweighs the remote risk associated with developing Aspergillosis.