cannabis cleanroom technology, clean room person with lab equipment

Critical Infrastructure: Cleanroom Technology for Cannabis

by | Mar 22, 2018

cannabis cleanroom technology, clean room person with lab equipment

Written by Jessica McKeil

Jessica McKeil is a cannabis writer and B2B content marketer living in British Columbia, Canada. Her focus on cannabis tech, scientific breakthroughs, and extraction has led to bylines with Cannabis & Tech Today, Terpenes and Testing, Analytical Cannabis, and Grow Mag among others. She is the owner and lead-writer of Sea to Sky Content, which provides content and strategy to the industry’s biggest brands.

What is cleanroom technology? Cleanrooms are typically associated with the pharmaceutical and high tech manufacturing industries. Cleanroom technology implements procedures and equipment to precisely maintain air quality, humidity, and temperature. Ultimately the goal is to control airborne contamination. In some of the more common applications for cleanroom technology, they are designed to filter out chemical vapors, microbes, dust and other airborne contaminants.

Although the final design is very industry dependent, most cleanrooms have similar protocols to maintain strict control over air quality. Some common features include airlock entry for employee access and a requirement for all employees to wear protective clothing inside. These practices are as much about protecting the employee, as about protecting the product.

There is also normally procedures mandating what types of equipment can enter the room, including cleaning supplies, furniture and even office supplies. Low-level cleanrooms may not have such strict rules; however, within the high-tech manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries, even a carbon pencil can release unwanted airborne particle contamination. 

What are the Applications for the Cannabis Industry?

cleanroom technology in cannabis

How strictly cleanroom technology is implemented in the cannabis industry remains to be seen. But, there are many reasons why even low-level cleanrooms are directly applicable to both cultivators and processors. One only needs to look to the current legislation in Oregon to see how having strict control of contamination from start to finish can protect crops, products, and a company’s bottom line.

As one of the newest legalized states in the U.S. Oregon is also one of the strictest. All cannabis products must pass stringent testing before heading to market. The state has implemented a state-wide network of licensed cannabis laboratories, which scan products for 59 illegal pesticides as well as to confirm potency.

Growers deciding to implement grow room technologies can eliminate contaminants during both the grow and processing phases of production. Ultimately it would reduce the risk of having the product rejected before entering the market.

Implementing cleanroom technologies in cannabis operations isn’t much of a stretch. Airflow, temperature, humidity levels, and more are all carefully managed in a professional grow room. Therefore, moving into cleanroom technology only builds off this preexisting environmental control system.

The Industry Leaders in Cannabis Cleanroom Technology

Cleanroom technology has already begun operating in the cannabis industry, with companies like Surna, Portafab, and MariJ Pharmaceuticals developing specialized equipment, protocols and more in the prediction of where the industry is heading.

Implementing a cleanroom can be taken to extremes, but with the options on the market today, companies can adopt technologies which work for their bottom line and production line. As an example, MariJ Pharmaceuticals has taken their cleanroom technology mobile.

They operate a fleet of pharmaceutical grade mobile extraction units, which cater to companies looking to outsource and professionalize the extraction process. Their cleanroom trucks come equipped with state of the art CO2 Subcritical and supercritical oil extracting machines, built to pharmaceutical industry standards. Essentially a cleanroom on wheels.

For operations which have the capacity and space for slightly higher levels of investment into cleanroom technologies, Portafab produces modular versions. Portafab has taken its experience in other industries, including its compliance with industry standards like USP 797 and USP 800, and applied this experience to modular cannabis cleanrooms. Their customizable rooms are designed to be completely interchangeable as their clients need change, or the industry standards change. Their rooms can accommodate all phases of production, from cultivation to extraction.

Going one step further, companies like Surna, focus on all aspects of biosecurity. Surna dives deep into a company’s current facility, implementing a full biosecurity screening. Once assessed, they develop standard operating procedures, testing protocols and equipment improvements to move their client’s operation in line with cleanroom technology standards.

Clean Room Technology: A Deeper Dive

Soon, through ever-increasing regulation, the medical marijuana industry will need to operate much like the pharmaceutical industry, regarding production standards, product testing, and operational environmental conditions. Cleanroom technology, already long established within other high-tech industries, will likely become a common feature in the cannabis grow room sooner rather than later.