Marijuana is now legal for medical and recreational use in California. However, the United States Attorney General is trying to make recreational use illegal based on Federal law. Regardless of the US Attorney General, many people, especially teenagers, are happy that recreational use is legal and that it is legal to buy marijuana. However, the marijuana that is currently legal to buy and use recreationally may pose some serious problems. It may pose some very serious health problems that could be deadly.

The problem is that the state of California is not prepared for the new law making recreational marijuana legal to buy and use. Before any marijuana is sold from a dispensary it is supposed to be tested for mold, fungus and pesticides. The way marijuana grows it can be contaminated with mold and fungus. The mold and fungus are dangerous to people. In fact, the U.C. Davis Medical Center had a person die from a lung infection created by a fungus. They tracked the fungus back to some marijuana the person used.

The form of the marijuana doesn’t matter. The mold and fungus can be in marijuana you smoke or eat. You can get sick from either form. People may assume if pesticides are used to kill the mold and fungus as the marijuana that will make the marijuana safe. After all, we use pesticides on the food we eat all the time with no problem. However, fruit and vegetables can be washed and the pesticides removed. Marijuana cannot be washed. Therefore, the pesticides remain on the marijuana. Some of the pesticides turn into cyanid when they are burned. Therefore, a person smoking recreational marijuana can also be taking in cyanid which can be deadly.

The reason this problem exist is because there are not enough labs in California to test the marijuana being sold for recreational use. There are only approximately 18 labs in California approved to test recreational marijuana. These labs cannot keep up with the demand.

The solution is to have more labs approved to test recreational marijuana. The State of California is currently working on getting more labs approved for testing. However, it is projected that it will take until July 2018 in order for the State to have enough labs approved and prepared to test recreational marijuana.

Therefore, in the mean time, when you go to a dispensary to buy recreational marijuana if it has not been tested, there will be a sticker on it saying it has not been tested. If you have a doubt, ask before you buy and ask to see the documentation. If the marijuana has been tested, the dispensary will be able to provide this information. If the dispensary hesitates about providing documentation, then the marijuana has not been tested. Remember, currently all recreational marijuana which has not been tested should have a warning label stating it has not been tested. However, some sellers may not disclose this information and therefore the marijuana may not have the warning label. So for your own safety, if you buy recreational marijuana before July 2018, ask for the documentation that it has been tested for mold, fungus and pesticides.

Parents it is important to explain this information to your teenagers. Before marijuana was legalized the major concern was could the marijuana be laced with another drug such as LSD. However, now besides making sure it is not laced if you buy it off the street, you also need to check if it has been tested. Parents you may feel safe because legally you have to be 21 years old in order to buy marijuana. However, we all know that teenagers can find someone to buy it for them. Therefore, teenagers need to be aware of the health risks associated with buying marijuana from a dispensary now.

Dr. Michael Rubino has 20 years experience working with teenagers and children. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.

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