New cannabis technologies, including quality control and contamination testing along with other health and safety practices, are key to building and maintaining consumer trust in the legal cannabis industry.
Over the past several years, cannabis consumers have increasingly transitioned from the black market to legally regulated cannabis. Legal cannabis shops and delivery services offer greater convenience, a safer consumer experience and superior products. The biggest reason consumers in legal jurisdictions are leaving the black market, however, is the reasonable assurance that the products they are buying are clean, consistent and free of toxic pesticides, mold, heavy metals and worse. As breakthrough cannabis technologies continue to establish new cultivation techniques and testing practices, end-users stand to benefit from the improvements in product offerings.
When the black market was the only option to buy cannabis, many illicit growers looked to maximize their production by using substances that were not safe for human consumption. One study by the Integral Ecology Research Center found “highly deadly toxic chemicals” in 89 percent of samples collected from illicit grows in California.
The main difference between black-market growers and legal cannabis producers is accountability. In order for the legal cannabis industry to effectively stamp out the black market, the regulated market needs to be meticulous in ensuring that the product maintains a consistency beyond reproach. Improvements in cannabis technologies including cultivation and testing have the potential to ensure this consistency. The differences in health, safety and quality control conducted by a licensed producer are considerable when compared to an illicit operation. Following legalization, the close scrutiny provided by government regulatory bodies has helped to ensure legal cannabis remains safe and consistent. In turn, cannabis consumers have gained the reasonable assurance that the cannabis products they consume are safe.
Although many of the practices used by licensed cannabis producers fall under “organic” agriculture, the definition of the term varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Different governments and regulatory bodies have varying definitions of what qualifies as organic and take those stipulations seriously when determining who can use that label. Australia, for example, does not allow growers that use various vertical farming techniques like hydroponics to call their product organic. Australian growers can avoid using any inorganic substances on their plants; however, in order to be called organic, the product must be grown in soil.
Clean cannabis technology
The backbone of accountability in the legal cannabis industry is the regulatory body that sets up and enforces regulatory standards for cannabis production. In Canada, Health Canada subjects cannabis producers to a comprehensive set of Good Production Practices. In Australia, medical cannabis regulations are set out by the Office of Drug Control. In the US, states like California control these regulations through the Bureau of Cannabis Control.
Failure to meet quality standards for clean cannabis can have huge ramifications for a cannabis producer. With supply chains as complex as they are, not even major producers are immune to risk. In February 2017, major Canadian cannabis producer Organigram (NASDAQ:OGI,TSX:OGI) went into crisis mode when it was discovered that banned pesticides had made it into some of the company’s product somewhere along the supply chain. The company has managed to weather the resulting public relations fallout and its stock has since recovered, but the process involved Organigram issuing $2.26 million in refunds while taking a significant hit to the company’s reputation. Such an incident could easily be the end of a smaller cannabis company, and repeated failures have the potential to bring down a major.
Cannabis technology improving compliance
When the stakes are so high, it’s no surprise that cannabis companies are going to extreme lengths to avoid contamination. Asterion Cannabis, for example, plans to take extreme sanitation measures to ensure that pathogens, molds and mildews do not enter the production cycle. All employees at Asterion’s cultivation and production facilities are expected to wear clothing and personal protective equipment that is specially designed for their roles, reducing the likelihood pathogens transfer to the plants at any stage of their lifecycle.
Due to the highly specialized equipment and training involved, employee security access will be limited to each employee’s specific workspace only. To avoid airborne contaminants, flowering, trimming, harvesting and drying rooms are pressurized so that only filtered air can enter and ventilation is properly maintained. Complex filtration systems will be put in place to eliminate any airborne metals, pathogens, pollens and molds. After each flowering and harvest, the facilities will be thoroughly cleaned, dried and sanitized with fogging systems and ozone to abate any lingering pathogens and volatile organic compounds.
While regulators have made very clear that toxic pesticides have no place in the legal cannabis industry, cannabis producers still need to protect their product from pests and disease. This need is fueling the rise of non-toxic biopesticides derived from natural sources. So far, a number of legal cannabis jurisdictions have decided on acceptable biopesticides for cannabis cultivation. Canadian agricultural biotech company MustGrow Biologics is attempting to use the natural defense mechanisms of brassica plants as a biopesticide in the cannabis and agrifood spaces.
Even with all the precautions in the world, legal cannabis products must stand up to scrutiny before they can be sold. This is where lab testing comes in. Qualified testing labs are validated by regulatory authorities like Health Canada to certify cannabis is clean and safe to sell. These labs utilize a range of tests such as microbial testing, liquid chromatography and atomic absorption spectroscopy to detect the presence of banned pesticides, heavy metals, E. coli, molds and more. Some larger producers even have their own in-house certified test labs, while others utilize third-party lab testing services.
The greatest advantage the legal cannabis market has over black market cannabis is consumer trust. Legal cannabis consumers have the guarantee that the product they are buying stands up to even the most stringent health and safety standards. In order to maintain this advantage, cannabis companies need to be diligent through unwavering adherence to the exclusive use of safe, non-toxic chemicals, and absolute adherence to anti-contamination procedure.
American cannabis sales hit US$17.5 billion in 2020, a research group’s new study shows.
Meanwhile, a Canadian cannabis producer began offering CBD beverages in the US, another move that shows how interested Canadians are in the overall US cannabis market at the moment.
Some pretty important news out of health and wellness; beverage and natural products company BevCanna Enterprises Inc. (CSE:BEV, Q:BVNNF, FSE:7BC) this week. For those of you following the Company with us, stay tuned.
As investors continue to prioritize cannabis opportunities in the US, market watchers expect mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to play a role in the future for Canadian companies.
A consolidation trend has been expected in the Canadian cannabis space for some time now based on the size of the market compared to the number of operations in the country.
BioHarvest Sciences Inc. Unveils the Unique Polyphenolic Content of Its Upcoming Olive-Based Nutraceutical
The product will include polyphenols known to have significant health benefits.
BioHarvest Sciences Inc. (CSE: BHSC) (“BioHarvest” or the “Company”) has reached an important milestone in its development program of additional Nutraceuticals. The olive-based Nutraceutical product scheduled for market availability in the second half of 2022 will contain the following unique matrix of polyphenols: hydroxytyrosol, trosol, and verbascoside. These compounds are the major polyphenols in naturally grown olives and are responsible for the high antioxidant activity of olives and olive oil. Importantly, the BioHarvest olive-based Nutraceutical product will provide all the benefits of olives and olive oil with a low calorie count per serving.
Cresco Labs (CSE:CL) (OTCQX:CRLBF) (“Cresco” or the “Company”), one of the largest vertically integrated multistate cannabis operators in the United States, announced today that it will report financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31 st , 2020 on Thursday March 25 th , 2021 before the market opens.
The Company will host a conference call and webcast to discuss its financial results and provide investors with key business highlights on Thursday March 25 th , 2021 at 8:30am Eastern Time (7:30am Central Time).