Making Cannabis Microbe Free
We love cannabis, but so does mold, microbes, and bacteria. Cannabis, as a living plant, is an attractant to things we might not want to inhale or ingest. Compounding the health issue is that these pervasive life forms are often invisible. Add to this that just because a plant looks clean and healthy is no guarantee that it really is in ideal health. Remember, all-natural includes hangers on.
You can cross your fingers and hope, or you can take matters into your own hands which is what the majority of Licensed Producers do to meet Health Canada’s strict benchmarks before being put on the market. Especially medical cannabis producers can take no risks when supplying to immuno-compromised patients.
The method used is called irradiation (being subjected to radiation), a term scarier than reality. Radiation is all around us: microwaves, cellphones, televisions, radios, etc. However when it comes to cannabis we are talking about electron beam, x-ray, or gamma rays.
Electron beam radiation is a stream of light and often used as a medical sanitizer. X-ray is like the dentist but stronger. Finally gamma rays (aka Cold Pasteurization) uses radiation from Cobalt-60 or Cesium-137. Cold Pasteurization provides just enough energy to sanitize without radiating the cannabis as the ray goes straight through the plant. This is no different than luggage going through an airport scanner.
Claims have been made that terpenes and cannabinoids are degraded by the process. According to a 2016 article in Frontiers in Pharmacology titled Evaluating the Effects of Gamma-Irradiation for Decontamination of the Medicinal Cannabis, there was no reduction in cannabinoid counts. Terpenes were reduced, some up to 38%. Whether this is any higher than other forms of processing or the effects from storage and time is still open for debate.