With the stringent safety requirements imposed by Health Canada, many licensed cannabis producers use irradiation to ensure their products are contaminant-free. In fact, industry experts have estimated that over 80% of LPs use irradiation to sterilize their product.
If the word irradiation sounds a bit scary to you, I promise you aren’t the only one. Many cannabis consumers question the safety of irradiated cannabis and the overall impact it has on the quality, taste, and effect of the end product.
What is Irradiation?
Modern technology uses radiation for a wide variety of applications including medical sterilization, x-rays, and even the household microwave uses radiation to cook foods. Likewise, the process of irradiation is not new technology either.
The United States first approved irradiation for food products in 1958. However, Canada doesn’t allow the sale of irradiated foods with the exception of potatoes, onions, wheat, spices, and now, cannabis.
Irradiation and Cannabis
Clean, contaminant-free cannabis is critical, especially in instances of medical patients with compromised immune systems. That being said, it doesn’t necessarily require radiation to produce contaminant-free cannabis.
Utilizing gamma radiation from Cobalt-60, a synthetic radioactive isotope of Cobalt, cannabis irradiation kills microorganisms and sterilizes products. In Canada, it is estimated about 80% of cannabis cultivators use irradiation as a shortcut to meet the stringent guidelines imposed by Health Canada.
Although deemed safe by the World Health Organization, opponents of irradiation question the safety and quality of consumables treated with radiation. Many consumers feel the irradiation process in cannabis causes damage to the flower by creating a reduction in terpenes, altering flavor and effect.
In fact, a recent study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology suggests the consumer may be right. The results stated:
“…irradiation had a measurable effect on the content of multiple cannabis terpenes, mainly on the more volatile monoterpenes. Reduction of affected terpenes was in general between 10 and 20%, but for some components this may be as much as 38%.”
How Canadians Can Avoid Irradiated Cannabis
Understanding the consumer demand for great taste, one Canadian LP, Flowr Corp. (TSXV:FLWR) (OTC:FLWPF), stands out from the crowd with their premium cannabis cultivation operation, which offers premium, non-irradiated cannabis products for the Canadian market.
Instead of gambling with quality and safety, Steve Klein and Tom Flow, Co-Founders of Flowr, focused on growing clean, quality cannabis which meets Health Canada’s standards without using the questionable post-harvest process of irradiation.
Non-Irradiated Cannabis as a Differentiator
Separating themselves from the rest of the market with expertise, Flowr’s team brings a wealth of experience to the table. Tom Flow co-founded one of Canada’s most successful L.P.s, MedReleaf Corp., which ended up getting acquired by Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NYSE:ACB) (TSX:ACB) for billions.
The other co-founder, Steve Klein brings his strong financial and investment know-how to Flowr, which has provided the company with access to growth capital, and a successful go-public transaction that landed them on the TSX Ventures Exchange.
Together, with CEO, Vinay Tolia, the company signed an exclusive R&D partnership agreement with Hawthorne Gardening Company, a subsidiary of Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (NYSE:SMG).
Through advanced nutrient formulations, integrated growing systems, quality genetics, and a highly controlled indoor environment, Flowr grows premium, non-irradiated cannabis.
Flowr: Large Scale, Yet High Quality
Headquartered in Markham, Ontario, Flowr is building a 50,000 sq. ft. R&D facility as well as, an 85,000 sq. ft. production facility in Kelowna, British Columbia.
With the increased footprint, the company expects to see a capacity of 12,000 kilograms annually. In an interview on Benzinga, company leaders stated, “…We expect Flowr to grow many more grams of product per square foot of production space than other producers.”
We’ll be watching Flowr closely to see how its non-irradiated cannabis offerings disrupt the Canadian cannabis market.
With recent Ontario Cannabis Store sales statistics showing that Flowr is selling even more marijuana than Canopy Growth Corp. (NYSE:CGC) (TSX:WEED) in the province, it is clear that many cannabis consumers are catching on.
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