Marijuana

Researchers Investigate Ways to Determine Marijuana Contamination

As the drug sees more and more legal and medical use

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WEST HAVEN, Conn. – The microscope at the University of New Haven, set at 10-times magnification, shows a marijuana leaf covered with dozens of tiny bumps. It's mold, and someone, somewhere could be smoking similarly contaminated pot and not have a clue.

Heather Miller Coyle, a forensic botanist and associate professor at the university, says all sorts of nasty things not visible to the naked eye have been found in marijuana – mold, mildew, insect parts, salmonella and E. coli, to name a few.

That's why Coyle and her students earlier this year began developing a new process to detect contaminants in marijuana through DNA profiling and analysis. The aim is to be able to identify potentially harmful substances through a testing method that could make the analysis easier and quicker for labs across the country in the developing industry of marijuana quality control testing.