It is not uncommon for cannabis users to pass a single pipe or joint from one mouth to the other; this can be social users or even patients medicating on cannabis. With legalization happening around the world, it is becoming even more acceptable for families and friends to share together in this newfound freedom. As much as joints are not expensive to purchase, sharing one promotes the feeling of connectivity and camaraderie. Cannabis events which are becoming popular around the world create another opportunity for bong sharing. But unknown to many cannabis users, this habit can make you sick.
A Study By Moose Labs Reveals That Cannabis Bongs Harbor More Germs Than A Public Toilet Seat
A recent study conducted by Los Angeles-based Moose Labs revealed that cannabis bongs all harbor “an astounding level of bacteria.” This did not come as a big surprise because anyway, most of the items we use are rarely germ-free. What was completely shocking however was the fact that cannabis bongs harbored more germs than a public toilet seat. Would anyone imagine licking a public toilet seat? That’s what sharing a bong is like, as this study revealed.
The researchers were equally astounded by the results and reiterated that they couldn’t quite get a neutral everyday item that matched its levels of bacteria- apart from a public toilet seat. From the results, the average cannabis pipe was found to have “almost one and a half times more bacteria than a public toilet seat.”
Can Bongs Be Used Hygienically?
From the report, it was concluded that using disposable mouthpieces reduced this risk significantly. Disposable mouthpieces can be used by each person and discarded after use. Some cannabis smokers use alcohol wipes to clean the mouthpiece before use, but this is not very effective. Moose Labs manufactures and sells disposable mouthpieces for smoking devices that come with a filter. The aim of the study was to investigate the need for alternative measures to curb the spread of germs through bong sharing.
Why Do Bongs Carry Such A High Amount Of Germs?
According to Christopher Carrubba, MD, the formation of biofilms is the reason behind the high concentration of germs on cannabis smoking devices.
“Marijuana itself can be a host to numerous bacterial and fungal organisms and contaminated bong water can similarly serve as a host for bacteria, candida, and other types of fungi.”
“As these organisms grow, they secrete substances that allow them to cling to certain physical objects such as plastic or glass within a bong. The accumulation of these secretions leads to the formation of a biofilm that serves to protect these organisms and to facilitate their ongoing proliferation.”
Dr. Carrubba also added that cannabis bongs and pipes are resistant to the common household cleaning agents and sanitizers. As a result, once a biofilm is created it may last on the smoking device for ages in spite of frequent cleaning.
Cannabis Bongs Are Likely To Harbor The Following Micro-Organisms
Aspergillosis is a fungus that accumulates in bong water. This is likely to trigger coughs and chest pain when inhaled.
These are bacteria that are likely to accumulate in parts of the bong that are not well cleaned. They are likely to cause sepsis (pus infections) when inhaled in people with compromised immunity.
This bacterium accumulates in dirty stagnant water like that found in an unclean bong. Flavobacterium will cause GI symptoms.
- coli will accumulate in unclean parts of the bong and will also trigger GI symptoms such as diarrhea and stomach pains.
What Is The Way Forward?
As much as cannabis is being hyped its therapeutic benefits, one needs to be cautious with how they consume it. The study above and the scientific deductions clearly point to a risk of even more serious infections being transmitted through bong sharing. People need to be cautioned about the risks associated with passing a cannabis pipe from one mouth to the next, even when medicating.
Banning the sharing of cannabis bongs cannot be a far-fetched solution to this problem, considering the risks involved. If sharing must be done, then the use of disposable mouth pies with filters must be implemented.
Secondly, bong users must be educated on how to clean these devices appropriately. Bongs should be cleaned with hot water thoroughly after single-use; this will ensure that germs don’t build up in the device. The water needs to be poured out and refilled so that it does not create an environment for the buildup of aspergillosis. Proper handwashing techniques before handling cannabis smoking devices can also be of great help.
33 states in the US have legalized medicinal cannabis recently, opening doors for Big Pharma to conduct clinical research in this area. Hopes are high that cannabis will offer solutions for chronic conditions that have remained incurable over the years such as cancer, MS, and TBIs. We expect that safer ways to consume cannabis will be created and standardized so that patients, as well as recreational users, do not jeopardize their health while consuming cannabis.
- Moose Labs (2019): Bacterial Contamination of Cannabis Pipes and How To Avoid Sharing Germs. Retrieved from https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1977/4409/files/Moose_Labs_White_Paper-Bacterial-Contamination-of-cannabis-pipes-and-how-to-avoid-sharing-germs.pdf?19732
- Healthline: Pseudomonas Infection. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/pseudomonas-infections
- Medline Plus: Aspergillosis. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/aspergillosis.html