cannabis industry biosecurity

Cannabis Industry Biosecurity: Take a SMART Approach to Looming Regulatory Changes

by | Sep 15, 2023

cannabis industry biosecurity
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Contributed by Jim Harris, Director of Business Development, SafetyNet America

The rapid growth of the cannabis industry has brought about new challenges, particularly in the realm of cannabis industry biosecurity. 

The once illicit industry has grown dramatically in recent years in response to expanding legalization and a flood of capital from venture capital firms and other investors. As the industry grows, it is forced to adapt to a fast-changing and complex landscape. The rapidly growing market for cannabis products presents immense opportunity and significant operational challenges to businesses across the spectrum. 

Many years ago, the healthcare industry was experiencing major issues with Healthcare Acquired Infections (HCAI). HCAIs were a significant source of morbidity and mortality and were the second most prevalent cause of death. Hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities struggled to control this due to limited regulations surrounding cleaning and disinfection protocols and their resistance to changes in their processes. 

It wasn’t until regulations were updated and the healthcare industry was forced to adopt more stringent policies and procedures that there was a significant drop in infection levels.

cannabis industry biosecurity, hospital disinfection

Challenges in Maintaining Biosecurity

Much like healthcare years ago, the cannabis industry faces ongoing problems with molds, fungus, and other pathogens. Meanwhile, the use of pesticides and other hazardous products is being highlighted as an issue for anyone consuming cannabis products. 

The widespread adoption of best practices is in direct contrast to today’s use of less rigorous reactive disinfection methods, which is nothing more than a ‘proxy of convenience. 

During the past 20 years, some governments have moved towards a more integrated approach to controlling pathogens and using pesticides that harmonize and rationalize policy, legislation, and core roles and responsibilities to manage relevant risks in food and agriculture better. 

Due to a lack of information and clear guidelines, many businesses reactively approach pathogen mitigation, if at all, and are resistant to change and continue to do things the same way and with the same products simply because “It’s The Way We Have Always Done It.”

Cultivation facilities typically run lean, and workforces may be responsible for multiple tasks. They may have higher-order priorities that they are focusing on, and, let’s face it, cleaning and disinfecting are not the most exciting parts of the job. 

A study published on May 13th by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that cannabis users were more than 3.5 times more likely to develop a fungal infection than non-cannabis users. Researchers believe this is due to mold, fungus, and other pathogens that infect cannabis, which are later smoked or vaped. 

cannabis industry biosecurity, cannabis infection, lung infection

Anticipated Regulatory Changes

With the push to reclassify cannabis as a Schedule III drug, it is anticipated that regulations will be updated, and anyone involved in the cannabis industry will be required to implement better cleaning, disinfecting, and protection procedures. It is also projected that the use of pesticides and other hazardous products will come under heavy scrutiny. 

The global cannabis market is expected to grow at a tremendous pace in the coming years, and if the reclassification of cannabis happens as many expect, companies well-positioned in the U.S. and who are willing to adapt and make the necessary changes sooner rather than later could capitalize on these changes while others less willing will either fall by the wayside or incur heavy penalties and fines for non-compliance.

The emergence of a post-prohibition cannabis industry has begun, and with it, the rapid evolution in best practices for safely growing, packing, and retailing cannabis. Realizing that changes are inevitable, to make it easier for those who want to become early adopters, SafetyNet is working to implement its Enhanced Biosecurity Program throughout the cannabis industry. 

Introducing SafetyNet’s Enhanced Cannabis Industry Biosecurity Program

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines proper biosecurity as a “strategic and integrated approach for analyzing and managing relevant risks to human, animal and plant life and health, and associated risks to the environment.” In layman’s terms, it simply means a day-to-day set of processes and procedures that play an essential role in keeping both facilities and the people who interact with them safe.

SafetyNet’s Enhanced Biosecurity Program provides a new standard for the remediation of pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, yeast, mildew, mold, and fungus in various agricultural markets. Developed in collaboration with independent experts in agriculture, infectious disease, and industrial hygiene, the program combines evidence-based cleaning, disinfection, and protection control strategies. 

It is designed to safeguard environments beyond the standard approach to cleaning and disinfecting, and its complete suite of cleaning and disinfection products and solutions is centered on providing long-term prevention results with a strong focus on the health implications. With products and services tailored to specific facility types, the focus now shifts from “What to do” to “How to do it” by prioritizing ongoing infection control maintenance.

cannabis industry biosecurity

Benefits of Implementing Effective Pathogen Mitigation

A good biosecurity program has measures that prevent or limit the introduction of pathogens to facilities and products, continuously monitors for pathogens’ presence, and implements adequate and consistently applied procedures. 

To be effective, a biosecurity plan should be in place at all times and change as needed to address the current degree of risk appropriately. No single step will provide everything needed for proper pathogen mitigation, but when combined, it should provide everything needed for clean, pathogen-free environments.

A SMART Concept

SafetyNet’s approach to proper pathogen mitigation implements a “SMART” concept to make things more effective for cannabis growers and processors: 

  • Simple 
  • Money-conscious 
  • Accountability 
  • Reliability
  • Timely

Utilizing processes for personnel compliance, surface disinfection, air purification, and water purification, combined with proven eco-friendly products and FDA and EPA-approved, this cannabis industry biosecurity approach stops infestation and reduces damage by taking a proactive preventative approach to your environmental remediation. 

The benefits of a more harmonized and integrated approach to biosecurity are already apparent with many greenhouses and grow facilities in the US and worldwide.

Pathogen mitigation does have some up-front costs, and with margins tight in the cannabis industry, investing time and money to deal with pathogens may seem frivolous or unnecessary. However, all cannabis cultivators will spend money and time on pathogens in some form, regardless. 

By utilizing SafetyNet’s Enhanced Biosecurity steps for proper environmental disinfection, you will have taken the first steps towards preventing pathogen cross-contamination, which will ultimately help to produce healthier, more natural plants.

Improved health and well-being of consumers combined with increased revenue for growers is the ultimate objective of SafetyNet’s Enhanced Biosecurity Program. These outcomes are strongly influenced by society and the environment in which products are grown, and, in this context, the cleanliness of an environment and the health of consumers are linked in many ways.

Ready to Elevate Your Cannabis Industry Biosecurity?

The evolving landscape of the cannabis industry demands proactive solutions for biosecurity. As you’ve learned, the challenges are real, but so are the opportunities.

Contact SafetyNet today at info@safetynetamerica.com to discover how our Enhanced Biosecurity Program can empower your cannabis business. Gain access to valuable insights, proven strategies, and a roadmap to cleaner, pathogen-free environments.

Don’t let biosecurity be an afterthought. Be a pioneer in safeguarding your products, consumers, and your bottom line. Take the first steps towards a healthier, more prosperous future for your cannabis venture.

Join us in shaping the future of cannabis industry biosecurity. Together, we’ll help a growing industry thrive!


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