Noxious Weeds: Mould, Mites, and Windex

Fern Hill

The following article was originally published on VancouverSun.com

Producing uncontaminated cannabis on a commercial scale is challenging, rare, and largely unregulated. The fact is, mould, adulterants, and pesticides are prolific in black market marijuana. The risk of consuming contaminated cannabis is real. Randomized tests of street-sold marijuana suggest that as much as 40% contains levels of mould toxic to humans. Pests, insect droppings, and harmful adulterants are widely observed in random selections of illegally produced bunker cannabis.

The ugliest of test results included bifenthrin, a highly toxic pesticide. At one dispensary in California, a sample found concentrations of bifenthrin 1600 times the safe and legal limit for human consumption. This is the harsh reality of unlicensed and unregulated growing. Even at the most elite levels of green thumb expertise, black market growers are not held to a unified and regulated quality assurance (QA) standard. Stringent and well-defined QA standards are a critical step for those who share Tantalus Labs’ vision of a transparent, safe, and credible future for commercial cannabis production.

Faced with the potential of mouldy bread, contaminated spinach, or diseased chicken, the Food and Drug Regulations - administered by Health Canada - mandate rigorous reporting, audit trails, product tracking, and recalls when necessary. Under the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), similar standards apply to commercial marijuana producers. Whatever your vision for legal cannabis cultivation, transparency is crucial to paving a credible path for growers.

The QA practices of a modern commercial cannabis cultivator must be specialized, technical, and methodical. Details matter. For those technically inclined, and in the interest of transparency, we at Tantalus Labs take the opportunity to educate on the processes of prevention, detection, and natural remediation that we utilize to ensure members can rely on pure and high caliber cannabis from us and other producers at the forefront of Quality Assurance technology. For a comprehensive overview of our QA methodology, please refer to our digital publication: Populace.

Caught in the middle of this heated and timely debate is the home grower, whose rights hang in the balance within Canada. Many of these gardeners maintain specialized levels of care in their cultivation practices - meticulous levels of attention one would expect from those growing their own medicine. These enthusiasts have been unjustifiably tarred with the same brush as the underground profiteers who rush to cut corners by spraying mouldy or pest-ridden cannabis with windex, ammonia, and bifenthrin.

The future of credible cannabis production starts with you. Demand quality assurance, transparency, and safety, and the market will be forced to deliver.