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Like any plant, cannabis is prone to pests and other diseases, which may leave them damaged. Cannabis producers need to extract oil and ensure their products are pesticide-free for a better marketing strategy. Yet the lack of federal regulations makes it difficult for farmers to use the right pesticide as no approved products exist.
As a result, farmers rely on various harmful pesticides, which may spark side effects on consumer health. We know that 80% of cannabis concentrates have been found to have a high level of pesticides. On Cannabis Tech, we have covered various ways to remove toxins and pathogens from the flower. But post-extraction, are there ways to remove toxins from concentrates and potentially salvage the product?
Pesticide-free Cannabis Critical
Pesticides include a wide variety of chemicals used to control pests and other microbes in cannabis crops. The California Pesticide Residue has listed pesticides as harmful, yet they are necessary for producers to protect their harvest against pest or other diseases that may damage crops. Some common pesticides include herbicides, insecticides, repellents, and so forth. Cannabis producers must rely on pesticide-free products to market to consumers safely.
To make valuable and safer products, cannabis producers must bring to the market pesticide-free concentrates. For extraction and contamination remediation, chromatography has been referred to as the most effective method. Pesticides need to be registered by the California Pesticide Residue, but due to the differences in legalization for cannabis, no approved pesticide exists for the cannabis plant as of today.
California’s Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act require cannabis crops to pass microbial testing. Yet, due to the nature of the plant and harvesting processes, it’s challenging to grow cannabis without being at risk of contamination. Either cannabis farmers should proceed with contamination remediation in-house or decontaminate their crops before testing.
Current Methods of Contamination Remediation from Concentrates
As concentrates, whether in the form of dabs or vapes, are the next big thing in weed, producers are genuinely concerned with the best way to make their products compliant and safe — leading them to explore new ways to extract, decontaminate, remediate, and purify their products. It’s possible to remove pesticides from concentrates with various methods, for instance:
Microbial decontamination: this process is done before the testing phase of the products and relies on a technology that removes aspergillus species and microbial without affecting the plant potency alongside the production phase, making it the cannabis concentrates purer.
Flash chromatography: has been used for decades by the pharmaceutical and chemical industries and is highly reliable to remove unwanted chemicals. The method has helped extract CBD and THC components from the cannabis plant but is quite a costly and lengthy procedure.
Contamination Remediation through a glass reactor: 90% of the pesticides are water-soluble. Running cannabis crude oil through a glass reactor enables to removal of any water-soluble pesticides from the concentrates.
There are benefits associated with this method:
It doesn’t require producers to go through the entire chromatography process. The reactor is said to provide clear distillates.
The glass-reactor method requires the use of a solvent. The cannabis oil and the solvent are mixed into water, eliminating terpenes, pesticides, and other chemicals.
Ai Vacuum, a company specializing in botanical refinement, explains the process as follows, “I use the reactor to pull any water-soluble pesticides that would otherwise be in the product.”
The method not only speeds up the process but also provides superior products.
Further Technologies for Contamination Remediation
In 2019, Capna Labs filed a patent to remove harmful pesticides from cannabis concentrates. The forward-thinking process would enable producers to extract cannabinoids to produce superior THC oils and concentrates. The patent would rely on the use of Bentonite to clean up concentrates from pesticides and other harmful chemicals, providing cleaner products alongside the supply chain.
Edwin Sibal, Chief Development Officer at Capna Technologies, mentioned that traditional methods might fail at completely removing pesticides. Indeed, in an interview on Green Rush Daily, Sibal claimed that “Pesticides are not effectively removed by ethanol extraction alone, or using butane extraction alone, or using carbon dioxide extraction alone.” Using Bentonite has better results, according to Capna Technologies.
This process is a win for cannabis producers who can rely on an affordable, easy-to-implement new technology to produce high-quality concentrates — and pass the testing required by some states such as Colorado or California. If such a method becomes widely used, cannabis manufacturers can ensure their products are safer and meet the standards — and may develop outstanding new concentrates for their consumers.