Basic Facts About Irradiation and Cannabis
Have you heard of a process called ir·ra·di·a·tion? Few have. It is a topic that is becoming more known in the cannabis industry and culture. Simply put, it is the process by which a product is exposed to radiation to increase its shelf life. More specifically, food irradiation exposes food and food packaging to ionizing radiation using gamma rays, x-rays, or electron beams. This practice is said to eliminate the risk of food-borne illnesses to prevent or slow down spoilage, arrest maturation or sprouting and as a treatment against pests.
This process is currently permitted by over 60 countries and is common practice here in Canada. The Government of Canada website states, ‘the permitted amounts of ionizing radiation are too low to negatively affect the nutritional quality of food and they are too low to cause radioactivity in food.’ Currently, items such as potatoes, onions, wheat, flour, whole wheat flour, whole and ground spices, and dehydrated seasoning preparations are being treated with this method.
People who are aware of irradiation question if it is safe for consumers. To date, many studies and meta-studies have been performed on this method and found it to be safe. Many public health authorities also endorse its safety, including the World Health Organization and the FDA. However, the negative perception associated with the word ‘radiation’ contributes to ongoing, low consumer acceptance. It is not mandatory to use this method and is at the discretion of each producer.
What relevance does this have with the cannabis industry you ask? Many licensed producers are currently using this sterilization method to comply with government regulations. Consumers feel irradiation is one factor affecting the low quality of some cannabis and believe this is what is largely responsible for the overly dry product on the market now. This is the most common issue consumers have with the available product from the government-regulated producers. Some connoisseurs also question if this process degrades the existing compounds, such as terpenes, found in cannabis.
There are other ways producers can provide a safe, clean product to the legal market. In a 2015 Okanagan Z article, the founder and co-CEO of Okanagan-based The Flowr Corporation shares his thoughts about the topic. Stating that good growing practices and well-designed and ventilated facilities are better ways to keep mould and bacteria off cannabis.
It is primarily the retailers who have fielded many of these product concerns from consumers, which are legitimate to a degree. Educating the public about the factors involved will improve consumers’ understanding and acceptance over time. If this subject is important to you we recommended learning what methods your favourite producer uses for compliance by contacting them directly or checking the FAQ section of their websites.
Some other factors for overly dry cannabis include improper curing, improper storage and also age. There are some measures you can take as a consumer to combat dry bud while still enjoying contaminant-free cannabis. Use a humidity pack to improve the moisture level of the dried herb slightly. Another idea is to try re-hydrating your flower using either a slice of bread or fruit peel. It is also important you store your dried flower properly to prevent it from drying out.
Additional research is required to solve this dilemma for all involved. Hopefully, the government will realize traditional methods are not one-size-fits-all, particularly when the product is as complex as the cannabis plant. The industry looks forward to the day that safety and consumer satisfaction are treated equally, for the ultimate success of the industry.
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This article was written by Kelly Gibson, copycontractor.com.