Cannabis cultivators are familiar with the traditional challenges of the harvesting process, but as the legal cannabis landscape continues to evolve, a new hurdle has emerged: passing contaminant testing. As regulations develop in your state, stay ahead of the curve by learning about cannabis remediation and cannabis decontamination.

In most states, commercial cannabis products have to go through a series of contaminant tests before they can be sold to consumers. While the specific requirements vary by state, the tests typically look for microbials, pesticides, and heavy metals. Consumer awareness is increasing as testing ramps up and product recalls make headlines, so more smokers seek consistently clean cannabis.

The Importance of Microbial Testing for Cannabis

The nature of cannabis as an agricultural
product makes it difficult for growers to guarantee every crop will pass
microbial testing. Cannabis is a quick-growing plant that can produce a high
yield of mature plants, but this also makes the production process highly
susceptible to contamination. If climate conditions aren’t exactly right, for
example, mold and bacteria can more easily infect cannabis, which can then
create additional issues in the supply chain.

Faced with state-mandated microbial testing
and consumer demand, cultivators have a choice: decontaminate their crop before
testing or have an in-house remediation process ready.

Microbial testing follows a simple structure.
Batches of flower are tested for colony forming units, or CFUs, of certain
harmful pathogens. If a batch is not adequately decontaminated and fails
testing, the product cannot be sold until it goes through remediation. This
gives growers a chance to decrease contaminant levels and go through another
round of testing. If they can successfully remediate product, it can then be
sold on the consumer market. If remediation fails, a manufacturer usually has
to destroy the entire harvest.

Cannabis Remediation: Equipment & Extraction

Some manufacturers remediate by extracting
flower into concentrate, a process that typically rids the product of its
microbial contaminants. Although extraction is a reliable method, it hurts the
manufacturer’s bottom line because flower almost always sells at a higher
wholesale price than concentrate. The differences vary by state, but the
principle doesn’t change by region: flower has better margins than
concentrates, and remediated products will always sell at a markdown. In short,
if you can protect your flower, you’ll protect your profit.

Outside extraction, the options for
remediation are limited, which is why we created the WillowPure ozone system.
Instead of having to rely on extraction labs, now cultivators can remediate
in-house, using technology that reduces contamination without destroying the
flower.

While this is a viable option for most
cultivators, there’s another way to approach the contamination issue in cannabis:
implement decontamination technology before initial testing to reduce the need
for remediation.

Cannabis Decontamination: Technology Protecting Your Investment

Forward thinking producers are starting to decontaminate their products before initial testing. In addition to appeasing regulators, passing tests the first time means avoiding the need for remediation, which saves cultivators valuable time and money.

While remediation is reactive in nature–it’s
used after a contamination issue has been identified–decontamination is
proactive: it’s implemented in order to create a more stable supply chain.
Considering the regulatory environment today, especially the focus on consumer
safety, it’s no surprise companies are moving away from remediation as they
learn about the benefits of decontamination.

A system like the WillowPure can be implemented into the harvesting process as a one-of-a-kind cannabis kill-step. The technology reduces or eliminates aspergillus species, microbials, and total yeast and mold counts while retaining the medicinal properties of the product. WillowPure technology effectively decontaminates flower without affecting potency, cannabinoid content, or terpene profiles. The scalable system can be used at multiple points in the harvesting process, making it a perfect solution for decontamination.

By learning about decontamination (and
remediation) options, growers can more confidently face testing and cement
their status as a consistent source of clean cannabis. Contact Willow
Industries today to find out how we can help with your decontamination and
remediation needs.