New Study Assesses Health Risks from Fungus and Toxins in Cannabis and Hemp

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The study examined the health risks and made recommendations for safer products.

A study published last week in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology examined the potential health risks posed to consumers by fungus and toxins in cannabis and hemp (1). The study, “Fungal and mycotoxin contaminants in cannabis and hemp flowers: implications for consumer health and directions for further research,” covered aspergillus, penicillium, fusarium, and other mycotoxins and their potential harms to users (1).

“We review current regulations for molds and mycotoxins worldwide and review assessment methods including culture-based assays, liquid chromatography, immuno-based technologies, and emerging technologies for these contaminants,” the authors explained (1). “We also discuss approaches to reduce fungal contaminants on cannabis and hemp and identify future research needs for contaminant detection, data dissemination, and management approaches. These approaches are designed to yield safer products for all consumers.”


When looking at the effects on immunocompromised individuals, the study discussed how methods of ingestion affected the toxins, the possible health impacts on conditions such as cancer or diabetes, and explained challenges posed to cannabis users by inconsistent regulations and testing requirements (1). The authors also presented recommendations to reduce fungus and toxins in cannabis in both pre- and post-harvest management (1). Finally, they included challenges and solutions for keeping medical cannabis users safer from fungal and mycotoxin contaminants (1).

“We wrote this article to bring these issues to the attention of the scientific, medical, and regulatory communities,” stated Kimberly Gwinn, professor of entomology and plant pathology at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (2). “We hope to encourage further research in this area, particularly in the areas of mycotoxins in product. Better data and public access to data will allow us to fully evaluate these risks and subsequently ensure safe products for consumers (2).”

For more information, read our recent blog, Aspergillus in the Cannabis Industry: Understanding Potential Health Issues and Pain Points.

Also check out our coverage from a webinar presented by Americans for Safe Access addressing testing inconsistencies affecting patient health.


  1. Gwinn, K. D.; Leung, M. C.; Stephens, A. B.; Punja, Z. K. Fungal and mycotoxin contaminants in cannabis and hemp flowers: Implications for consumer health and directions for further research. Frontiers in Microbiology 2023, 14 DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2023.1278189.
  2. Contaminants in Cannabis and Hemp Flowers Create Potential for Health Risks. UT Institute of Agriculture. October 10, 2023.