Mycotoxins, Molds, & Cannabis

Microbiological Screening at Steep Hill Halent

Molds (fungus) are living organisms that are often involved with the decomposition of organic matter. During the lifespan of a mold, it produces chemicals, by-products, and metabolites (like the alcohol produced by yeast during beer fermentation), including mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are so-named because they have been shown to be highly toxic to humans, animals, and plants. Along with acute toxicity (an immediate illness), continuous exposure to a specific mycotoxin often results in an allergic reaction resulting from buildup over time, that has the potential to be lethal to some patients. Once a patient becomes sick with a mycotoxin-induced type of allergy, the patient can remain allergic, becoming progressively sicker with each new exposure. Testing for  mycotoxins — and removing them from cannabis flowers — is critical.

The most commonly seen mold is mildew, which luckily is also the least harmful. For most cannabis consumers, mildew has nothing more than a very unpleasant taste, but to those with lung impairments, compromised immune systems, or allergies to molds, mildew can become a serious problem. Making matters more serious, in general terms, very little research has been done to date to measure the effects of smoking or inhaling mold or mold spores into the lungs, so we have very little understanding of how serious these issue are.

Microbiological contamination macro X200

Microbiological contamination macro X200

Aspergillus is a very toxic mold sometimes seen in cannabis. Aspergillus can be black, green, brown, white, yellow or blue in color. Some strains of Aspergillus contain a highly toxic mycotoxin called Ochratoxin. Ochratoxin is carcinogenic, destroys the kidneys, and causes neuropathic pain throughout the body. Routine laboratory testing for Aspergillus and Ochratoxin is done on coffee beans, red wine, cereals and dried fruits because of these concerns.

Another commonly-appearing Aspergillus strain is a mycotoxin called Aflatoxin, which is among the most carcinogenic chemicals known. Aflatoxin has been found in the breast milk of mammals eating contaminated feed, peanut butter, cooking oils such as olive oil, and in patients using contaminated cosmetics. Liquid chromatography (LC) testing has shown at least faint traces of Aflatoxin in at least 50% of food samples tested.

There are a variety of other molds and mycotoxins of concern. Under normal circumstances, the U.S. government, (through the F.D.A.) does an excellent job screening out these toxins from our food and drug supplies through mandatory testing. Unfortunately, since cannabis is still listed as a Schedule 1 substance, no mycotoxin testing is mandated by our government to protect us from these illnesses. Also, as mentioned previously, almost no testing has been specifically conducted to test the impact of inhalation of these molds and mycotoxins.

Cannabis patients and consumers need to be their own best advocate, and get in the habit of asking if the cannabis products they use are tested for mycotoxins, and if not, advise their supplier to test for mycotoxins.

Not Detected

Excerpt from Steep Hill Halent liquid chromatography report; mycotoxin and pesticide levels are below detectable limits. Solvent [hydrocarbon] cannabis concentrates may still contain mycotoxins, even though microbiological contaminants do not survive processing.

THCV Update: Doug’s Varin Strain

Doug's Varin Strain

Doug’s Varin Strain

Steep Hill Halent has finished analyzing kief from Doug’s Varin strain. Below are 2 lab reports; the first is unheated, and the second decarboxylated.

In the unheated sample, the THCA:THCVA ratio is a whopping 5:4, with 19% THCA and 15% THCVA. This means that each gram of this kief contains 190mg of THCA and 150mg of THCVA. This ratio is the lowest we have seen in this strain as other samples previously tested had slightly more THCVA than THCA.

Also note the 1.5% Myrcene. This large amount of Myrcene allows THC and THCV to enter the brain more quickly and in larger concentrations. Normally, with that level of Myrcene content, one would expect the kief to have a strong couch lock effect, but as it turns out, the extremely energetic effects of THCV negate the couch lock effect entirely.

When consumed, Doug’s Varin is exceptionally robust in its energetic properties, and also highly appetite suppressive. It is also very clear-headed, similar to Super Silver Haze, except Doug’s Varin delivers a more energetic reaction over a shorter duration as compared to Super Silver Haze.

The mother plant of this exceedingly rare strain has now been stabilized by three different expert horticulturists, who ultimately plan to release this strain for use in treatment of P.T.S.D., Parkinson’s, and other ailments for which it is exceptionally suited.


Doug’s Varin Kief

Download full PDF report — Doug’s Varin Kief


Doug’s Varin Kief – Decarboxylated

Download full PDF report — Doug’s Varin Kief [Decarboxylated]

Read more — THCV: The Sports Car of Cannabinoids

Rev. Dr. Kymron deCesare Chief Research Officer Steep Hill Halent

NextMarket Podcast: A Look at the PotTech Landscape with Steep Hill Halent’s Dave Lampach

NextMarket Podcast with Michael Wolf
Guest: David Lampach, Steep Hill Halent.

“While Mike doesn’t use pot, he’s been fascinated to watch the unfolding of a new legal market for it in his home state of Washington after voters approved the legal sale of pot at retail in 2012.

So when he was pitched a chat with Steep Hill’s CEO Dave Lampach, he said why not? After all, there’s a good chance legal market will be a multibillion market in the coming years, and there’s a gold rush in terms of new VC and investor money pouring into the pot-tech space.”

A big thank you to Michael Wolf for making this happen. Listen to more NextMarket podcasts at:

Purple Phenotypes in Cannabis

gdp2Granddaddy Purple trichomes

Purple Phenotypes refer to plants that express ‘purple’ chlorophyll. Some plants developed this as a survival strategy in low-light environments.

For the most part, purple phenotypes may be divided into two basic categories. In the first category, the plant automatically starts producing the purple color at a specific time in the plant’s life cycle. In other words, it is a pre-programed event that the plant consistently activates; many growers are familiar with this.

The second category of purple phenotypes is triggered by temperature. When nighttime temperatures drop to (or below) 55 °F for at least 3-4 days, it triggers the production of the purple chlorophyll. This is why, especially for sativas with lengthy flowering times grown outdoors, some cannabis strains start changing color in late October and early November. These winter months are colder with shorter days. Once the purple chlorophyll production process has started, if temperatures rise, the purple chlorophyll remains. Some of Steep Hill Halent’s clients have learned that chilling indoor grows with an air conditioner while their plants are resting during their dark time works well to express this purple color characteristic.

Purple phenotypes basically come in 3 different colors: purple, red-brown, and bluish purple (indigo). Distinguishing the difference between these colors is useful in typing phenotypes.


Purple Urkle [flower] HPLC Cannabinoid and Terpenoid Profile. Note high concentrations of Myrcene, indicating indica, or couch-lock effects.

Download full PDF report — Purple Urkle

Read more — Indica or Sativa: Here’s How to Know

HIGH TIMES Panels and July Update

Rev. Dr. Kymron deCesare (Chief Research Officer) speaks on the HIGH TIMES Health Panel

Addison deMoura (Founder and COO) speaks on the HIGH TIMES Dab Panel

We’d like to give a big thank you to everyone who had a chance to stop by our booth last weekend at the HIGH TIMES cup, also to the HIGH TIMES staff for hosting the convention. Also, we hope you had a great Independence Day!

We had a chance to showcase our brand new QuantaCann 2 and can’t wait to begin shipping these units out to the public. Our management team had a chance to take the unit to Jamaica over the last week for some consultation work, we’ll see about getting photos up. Safari, anyone?

- THCV Update: Doug’s Varin Strain
- Mycotoxins, Molds, and Cannabis
- CBN: The Ambien of Cannabinoids
- Purple Phenotypes in Cannabis

HT141Rev. Dr. Kymron deCesare consults with patients attending the convention.

HT142QuantaCann 2 on display.

HT144Mathew Shoemaker (Sales Associate) answers questions for HIGH TIMES attendees.