The Impending Cannabis Regulation Storm
With cannabis regulations in the U.S. still being written, debated, and changed seemingly on a whim, it is critical to stay current on the ever-evolving law.
Growers, producers of cannabis products, and vendors need to make sure that they don’t run afoul of the FDA. While it is impossible to know exactly what the FDA will be looking out for in future months and years, there are a few things for certain. They are responsible for the oversight and regulation of consumable products in the U.S. and cannabis products will be front and center for the foreseeable future.
It began in 2018 when hemp was removed from the definition of “marijuana” in the Controlled Substance Act and moved under the purview of the FDA. FDA-regulated product that are made from hemp or have hemp ingredients in them must meet the requirements of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C). The same is true for all products containing CBD and any other legalized forms of cannabis from the flower itself, to extracts, edibles, etc.
While a lot of what the FDA cracks down on is the truthfulness of claims and evaluating the stated percentages of CBD and THC versus what is actually in the product, they are also looking for contaminants and for the overall safety of cannabis products. They are constantly and vigorously testing products for any traces of toxic elements, pesticides, chemical contaminants, other adulterants, or anything else present in cannabis products that are marketed for consumption, which are not supposed to be there.
In March 2021, the FDA began showing its hand when they released warning letters to some U.S.-based companies that sell products containing CBD. These letters show that the FDA intends to step up its enforcement efforts on the cannabis product market, at least for the near future. The increase in recalls as well as the incidence of lawsuits regarding the safety of the ingredients of cannabis products will also cause the entire market to remain under intense scrutiny.
It’s not a stretch to understand why the FDA is looking for adulterated cannabis products. Cannabis products found to contain metals such as copper, nickel, or lead, and contaminants such as molds and bacteria that can cause serious health problems. The range of problems that can be contracted from contaminated cannabis products is vast and scary. Anything from abdominal pain and a metallic taste in the user’s mouth, all the way up to lifelong speech and language issue, reproductive difficulties, and kidney failure to mention just a few of the mild to severe possibilities that can occur from consuming tainted cannabis products.
Like any pharmaceutical or agricultural product, cannabis can be exposed to contaminants at any point in the supply chain. These could be bacterial or fungal, metals, pesticides, or any other biological or inorganic material that should not be present. The best defense that any company involved in the business of cannabis products is to ensure that whatever they are selling is free of contaminants, impurities, and is exactly what it says it is on the packaging or labels. Fortunately, there is a product out there that can help make sure that no one is inadvertently selling microbial contaminated cannabis products.
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- Cannabis Microbial Remediation: The Best Way To Ensure Safety
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There are no current requirements from the FDA regarding cannabis remediation; there are no FDA cleared remediation systems available today for growers and producers of cannabis products to purchase. There are however, state level testing requirements with more states coming online in the near future.
The Rad Source RS 420 series of cannabis remediation systems (RS 420•M, RS 420•Q and RS 420•XL) use the patented Quastar® photonic decontamination technology to inactivate the microbes at their DNA level (see image below). This amazing photon technology originated with life sciences applications used for the benefit of human health. Quastar technology has made a significant impact in blood transfusions and transplants, cancer research, viral termination, infectious disease prevention, crop security, and cannabis remediation. A real-world life science solution, available today for cannabis using the power of Quastar®. An amazing technology that has the power to penetrate the entire flower to decontaminate thoroughly, all without damaging or modifying it in any way.
The harvesting of cannabis as well as the processing of it must be highly regulated to keep it safe for consumer use. Mold, mildew, bacteria, and other harmful pathogens can enter, develop, and multiply if not handled properly in a controlled environment. Photonic decontamination will inactivate any bacterial or fungal pathogens, keeping your cannabis safe for further handling, processing, or sale to the public. It sanitizes your crop instantly and prevents it from developing any fungal or bacterial issues while storing or handling.
Growers, harvesters, and processors should invest in this technology. The cost of the equipment to ensure good hygiene of your harvested flower is a wise investment and can save you exponentially more money on potential lawsuits that could arise form tainted or unsafe cannabis products than the costs of the system. This system will pay for itself in short order.
Key Takeaways on the Current Landscape
More cannabis testing regulations are definitely on the way. This is going to mean that participants up and down the cannabis supply chain will have more of a vested interest in making sure that the cannabis products that they produce, and sell are safe. Pressure from congress, as well as segments of the public, will continue to push for more and more regulation on the cannabis market.
The FDA has stated on its website several of its priorities for its regulation of cannabis and cannabis products. It includes the evaluation of data in regard to product sampling and testing, as well as which strategies are best for the monitoring of quality and safety of cannabis products on the market.
They will be checking for the presence of:
- Microbes-numerous species of various genera such as Aspergillus, Penicillium, Fusarium, Oxysporum, E. coli, Salmonella, Clostridium and many more harmful species.
- Heavy Metals- including Cadmium (Cd), Lead (Pb), and Mercury (Hg).
- Insecticides- including but not limited to Bifenazate and Abamectin.
- Fungicides- including but not limited to Imazall and Myclobutanil.
- Plant Growth Regulators- including but not limited to Daminozide and Paclobutrazol.
- Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
*This is just a list of a few key contaminants, there are hundreds, if not thousands more possible.
Additionally, the FDA is in the middle of a massive sampling of 1,000 to 3,000 cannabis products currently on the market. This includes food, items such as beverages, candies, baked goods, oils, tinctures, pills, capsules, gummies, and other forms. Cosmetic products will be tested as well. They will be tested using liquid and gas chromatography, to determine CBD, CBDA, THC and THCA quantities and to determine if there are and harmful contaminants present in an of the samples. If found, it can be assumed that fines and other punitive measures will be heavy and severe to be made an example of.
It should not, then, be any surprise to anyone in the cannabis industry, that cannabis products are very much on the FDA’s radar, and not likely to fall off any time soon. With appropriate technology, growers and vendors can avoid issues with the FDA, by making sure that all of their cannabis products are clean and safe for consumption. Findings from current and future testing of cannabis products will make or break many cannabis businesses, make sure yours is not one of the ones that makes the headlines for failing test results. The technology is here now, and it will keep your cannabis business afloat and successful.
Rad Source is a global life science leader developing real world solutions using their patent Quastar® light emitting technology. They provide safe proven and reliable solutions that help address humanity’s most challenging issues. Visit radsource.com to learn more, or contact [email protected]
Written by Chris Bond | Certified Permaculture Designer, Nursery Technician, Nursery Professional
Chris Bond’s research interests are with sustainable agriculture, biological pest control, and alternative growing methods. He is a certified permaculture designer and certified nursery technician in Ohio and a certified nursery professional in New York, where he got his start in growing.