April 22, 2021 03:30 pm ETEstimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
During the process of cultivating cannabis, the plants undergo processing which includes drying. These processes may lead to the accumulation of pathogens such as fungi and bacteria- however, many nations have strict regulations concerning the level of pathogens that are allowed to remain on the cannabis product before going to consumers. Due to reasons such as this, some cannabis cultivators make use of irradiation on dry flowers in order to reduce the chances of and accumulation of surviving pathogens. Before getting a better understanding of the “what’s” and “why’s” of irradiated cannabis, let’s have a quick look at cannabis pathogens.
Cannabis Plants Are Subject to a Variety of Pathogens
Plant pathogens that are present on cannabis plants can impact the growth of the plant as it affects the roots, crown, and foliage of the plants. These include fungi that colonize the inflorescences (the buds) which can lead to a reduction in product quality. According to this research paper on pathogens and molds affecting the production and quality of cannabis, the following have been observed in cannabis plants with pathogens: root browning, discoloration of the crown and pith tissues, stunting growth, yellowing of plants, powdery mildew, bud rot as well as potential death to the plant. Examples of these pathogens which affect the cannabis plant include molds, mites, mildew, fungi, fusarium, viruses, and viroids. In order to reduce the number of pathogens present in the cannabis products in compliance with regulations, means of eliminating pathogens including the use of chemicals to disinfect the plants, and now some are using irradiation.
Irradiation Helps Eliminate Pathogens
Irradiation refers to when the plant is exposed to radiation. According to media reports, it’s estimated that approximately 80% of licensed cultivators are using irradiation for sterilization in Canada. Irradiation is not a new concept and has even been used for multiple purposes such as sterilizing medical equipment. Radiation is also being used to sterilize cannabis so that only the organic and therapeutic compounds remain. While using radiation is not necessary to produce contaminant-free cannabis, it has been effective in killing unwanted microorganisms while also sterilizing the products. There are many groups of individuals who are opposed to irradiation as the safety and quality of products come into question.
Fortunately, irradiation has been found to have no effect on the therapeutic components of cannabis. A study, conducted by Dr. Arno Hazekamp, analyzed different varieties of cannabis strains before and after the use of gamma-irradiation treatment. The results revealed that there were no effects to cannabinoids such as THC and CBD but that there was a slight reduction in some of the present terpenes. Dr. Hazekamp explains that this reduction in terpenes can be as low as 10% but also as high as 38%.
Apply For Your Medical Marijuana Card Today
Veriheal has satisfied hundreds of thousands of patients nationwide
Get approved or your money back
Appointments available on-demand
Customer support available 24/7
Dr. Hazekamp goes on to explain that some patients who have been treated with irradiated medical cannabis claimed “a change of taste or effect”, while others were concerned over the potential changes in chemical composition as well as the quality of the product. As a result, Dr. Hazekamp provided some data from research. One study found that the irradiation reduced “the content of terpenes such as myrcene and linalool” while another found no indications of “changes in cannabinoid profile”. It should be noted that the research is still in its early stages and that more comprehensive and conclusive studies need to be conducted.
As for the potential change to taste or effect, Dr. Hazehamp explains that “such opinions may be hard to substantiate because the same cannabis is usually not available to consumers in both its irradiated and non-irradiated form to allow direct comparison, meaning there is no ‘baseline product to quantify the magnitude of change”. Not to mention the fact that cannabis effects are somewhat subjective to the consumer.
Is Irradiated Cannabis Safe?
One major concern over irradiated goods stems from the formation of radiolytic compounds, 2- alkylcyclobutanones (2-ACBs) in specific. This radiolytic compound occurs when high fat-containing foods are exposed to gamma irradiation, “and their content increases with irradiation dose”. However, since cannabis is not high in fat, this concern is not really applicable in terms of using radiation to sterilize cannabis.
Dr. Hazekamp states that “gamma irradiation does not significantly heat up” the product, which means that the compounds will not get activated, and that “water may be lost during the procedure either as a result of the irradiation itself”. Additionally, the “microscopic structure of the dried cannabis flowers were not altered by standard irritation protocol.
Simply put, irradiated cannabis is the plant’s product that has undergone a process of irradiation-where it was exposed to radiation in order to sterilize the product. The main reason for such sterilization lies in complying with regulations set out by local authorities as other methods are not as effective. Besides a loss in some terpene content, irritated cannabis is said to be safe and just as effective. Like cannabis itself, there will continue to be controversy around gamma irradiation and in the end, one has to decide whether to consume, or not to, for oneself.
Suddenly, the world of magic mushrooms is almost as complicated as that of learning about cannabis. Shrooms or “magic” mushrooms have gained traction as a hallucinogenic therapeutic application for several different mental health circumstances such as depression and migraines—particularly when microdosing. It’s not just liberty caps anymore, folks. There are many different varieties and types…
As of now, 15 states have legalized adult use of med and rec, and when a state legalizes recreational use of cannabis, people tend to stop getting their mmj cards. But cannabis consumers who opt not to get a MMJ card are missing out on a bunch of benefits like paying lower costs, the ability…
Edibles are arguably one of the best means of recreational cannabis consumption—you get to eat a treat AND experience a long-lasting high. But it’s easy to end up dealing with some unwanted side effects due to the variability in the onset of these THC-packed goodies, which come in the form of brownies, cookies, gummies, chocolate,…
If you’re reading this, you are either a recreational cannabis veteran who has seen a handful of cannabis smokers passing out from puffing a joint and can’t seem to figure out why. Or, you are a newbie who wants to give recreational or medical cannabis a shot, and the burning question on your mind is,…
According to a new study published by the University of New Mexico (UNM) in the prestigious journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, researchers have unveiled a significant correlation between the sensation of “feeling high” and the relief of medical symptoms among cannabis patients. This landmark study probes uncharted territories, challenging pre-existing assumptions and opening new avenues for…
The statements made regarding cannabis products on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Cannabis is not an FDA-approved substance and is still illegal under federal law. The information provided on this website is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. It is not intended as medical advice and should not be considered as a substitute for advice from a healthcare professional. We strongly recommend that you consult with a physician or other qualified healthcare provider before using any cannabis products. The use of any information provided on this website is solely at your own risk.