Irradiated Cannabis is Real: Now What?

Irradiated Cannabis is Real: Now What?
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Is irradiated cannabis really a thing? If you’re in Canada, the answer is likely “yes,” and the practice is catching on in throughout the US where marijuana is legal. Even while cannabis producers and the irradiation industry keep assuring us that it’s safe as a means to “remediate” harvested flower—reduce bacteria, molds and other pests—they point to decades of employment of irradiation to extend the shelf-life of food products and keep them free of bugs and pathogens. Cannabis consumers should be aware, however, that food irradiation has never lived up to industry expectations since it was approved for widespread use in this country in the 1980s. And some consumer advocacy voices are skeptical that this is the way for the cannabis industry to go. Industry Reassurances Irradiated cannabis got some rare media coverage when Forbes ran a write-up on the practice April 30. The piece focused on the example of EOS Farms, a licensed producer in Massachusetts, which uses an irradiating device supplied by Rad Source Technologies of Georgia. Rad Source is one of the top producers of such devices for the US cannabis industry, with clients in several states, including California, Colorado, Oregon, Michigan, Illinois and Washington. The article cites proponent assertions that for immuno-compromised patients, i.e. cancer survivors, remediation techniques such as irradiation “could be the difference between a safe smoke and a life-threatening fungal infection.” It also notes the special imperative for such remediation in Massachusetts, which has stringent regulations, limiting the total amount of bacteria and other life forms in cannabis. This is in contrast to states such as California, that just bar or restrict specified harmful bacteria and molds like e. coli and aspergillus.   The story notes other widely used remediation methods, such as ozone and hydrogen peroxide. But EOS Farms went with irradiation because of its supposed lack of “residual effect”—leaving the…

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