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A majority of the hashish being sold by street dealers in Madrid is unfit for human consumption, as it contains traces of fecal matter, E.coli bacteria, and Aspergillus fungus, a study has found.

After testing 90 samples that were smuggled into and sold throughout the Spanish capital, researchers discovered dangerous levels of fecal matter in the cannabis resin. About 40 percent of the samples even had the aroma of feces. The hashish samples were acquired directly from street dealers in Madrid and in surrounding suburbs by José Manuel Moreno Pérez, lead study author and pharmacologist from Complutense University of Madrid.

The study was co-authored by Pilar Pérez-Lloret, Juncal González-Soriano, and Inmaculada Santos Álvarez and published in Forensic Science International in February 2019. The initial aim of the research was to analyze the hashish and determine whether it was suitable for human consumption.

Hashish (Retinafunk/Flickr)

After splitting up the samples by shape in order to determine if one type of hash contained more contaminants than the other, the researchers found that acorn-shaped were the most dangerous of the bunch. This specific hashish shape was considered the most hazardous because of the way they were smuggled into the country – wrapped into small pellets before they were swallowed and eventually excreted by a drug smuggler once they arrived in Spain.

In these acorn-shaped samples, the researchers found that 93 percent contained dangerous levels of E. coli bacteria, as did 29.4 percent of the block-shaped ingot samples. About 10 percent of the hashish was contaminated with Aspergillus, a dangerous fungus genus that can cause a lung infection when mold spores are inhaled.

Overall, the study showed that 88.3 percent of the tested samples were unsuitable for human consumption, leading the researchers to suggest that illegal street vending of hashish constitutes a public health issue in the Spanish capital.

“Most of the hashish sold in Madrid is not suitable for human consumption, mainly due to microbiological criteria, and represents a danger to health,” the study concluded.

While E.coli bacteria and Aspergillus could be harmful to any unsuspecting person, the study stated that this low-quality hashish is particularly dangerous for cancer patients who use cannabis to deal with chemotherapy symptoms. Since cancer patients usually have a weakened immune system, an infection caused by this contaminated hashish could be fatal.  

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