Biosecurity is quickly becoming one of the most important topics in the cannabis industry. Testing standards are getting stricter and rates of tainted crops are sky rocketing, causing supply shortages and significant financial blows to cultivators all over the continent. Crops with mold or fungus can be deadly to consumers—especially those with lower immune systems, like many medical users. The alternative for many cultivators is to use chemicals like pesticides and fungicides to combat mold but unfortunately, these still pose a threat to consumers, placing cultivators in a catch-22 situation. Should you risk mold and fungus by avoiding chemicals? Or should you introduce potentially harmful chemicals to your plants to ensure against mold and fungus? Neither is a good option. Not only do these options put consumers at risk but, with increased regulation, they also put cultivators at risk of losing significant profits from having to dispose of sub-par harvests.
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Lately, it seems every other article we read is about growers having to dispose of large percentages of their crops due to testing failures. The recent tightening of regulations on pesticides and fungicides in Oregon has had a serious effect on cultivators as they try to figure out new ways to grow healthy plants without depending on chemicals. But this isn’t just an Oregon problem. More states are joining the cannabis market and, with that, comes stricter testing regulations. In fact, a new study by Steep Hill Labs shows that if California were to adopt similar testing standards to those used by Oregon Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ORELAP), nearly 83% of crops would fail. That is no small issue.
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In many states, medical cannabis programs are the only way to legally acquire cannabis. In these states, the end customers are patients looking for relief from their suffering. They have turned to cannabis for a variety of reasons, but they can probably all agree that they expect a high-quality product that is all-natural, and free of impurities such as mold, bacteria, and pesticides. After all, conventional pharmaceuticals are produced under strict clean room conditions, leaving little doubt regarding the quality of the medicine received. Cannabis should be no different. In order to protect patients, and meet a growing demand, quality control needs to be a top concern for growers, investors, and the end user.