3 Facts About Medical Cannabis Irradiation

March 27, 2017

3 Facts About Medical Cannabis Irradiation

Irradiation has over 50 years of proven use in the production of medicine and food. It is far superior to other alternatives such as the application of pesticides and fungicides or the use of fumigation, chemical treatment or damaging steam.

Aphria utilizes irradiation to deliver the safest and most effective medicinal cannabis to patients. We believe that irradiation is currently the best, cleanest and most reliable technology to eliminate naturally occurring mold in marijuana plants. The process is a common and approved method of reducing microbial contamination in industries where quality control is tightly regulated, including in the agricultural and pharmaceutical industries. While some evidence exists against this process, the scientific evidence in favour of its use proves to be much more robust than that of the former.

Patient concerns seem to be primarily around the quality and potency of medical cannabis, which, in short, speaks to the overall safety of consuming irradiated medical cannabis products. In an effort to address this concern and share more details on the topic, we use a recent study on irradiation and its effects on medical cannabis, to provide the following three facts related to the process and safety of irradiation:

1. Irradiation treatment does not affect the quality of a product

Recommended by Health Canada as one of the methods to ensure quality of products, irradiation does not alter the quality of medical cannabis products. The process ensures that those who consume medical cannabis products are in no way exposed to potentially harmful yeasts, molds and bacteria.  Additionally, because medical cannabis is often used by chronically ill patients affected by a weakened immune system from their current illness or ongoing treatments, irradiation ensures medical cannabis products are adhering to strict safety standards regarding microbial contamination. In other words, through the process of irradiation, patients are getting the cleanest product possible. Furthermore, this study found that the treatment did not cause changes to the levels of THC and CBD and is generally considered the most important therapeutically active component of medicinal cannabis.

2. Irradiation does not have any drying effect on the product

Standard irradiation protocol does not alter water content and microscopic structures of the dried cannabis. All Aphria products are analyzed for moisture content as part of our release specification.  Our moisture specification has been set at no more than 15% and results are in line with the various pharmacopoeias.

3. While studies indicate subtle changes to terpenes upon irradiation, the overall terpene profile of each variable remains clearly recognizable

Results from the study titled Evaluating the Effects of Gamma-Irradiation for Decontamination of Medicinal Cannabis indicated that the effect of gamma-irradiation was limited to a reduction of some terpenes present in the cannabis, but keeping the terpene profile qualitatively the same. As per the results, opinions on irradiation changing taste and/or smell of cannabis are hard to substantiate because there lacks a base-line product to which the magnitude of change in taste/smell can be compared. Having said that, since the taste and smell of cannabis mainly depends on its terpene, subtle changes to terpenes upon irradiation may result in possible subtle changes to taste and smell. Despite these changes, the overall terpene profile remains clearly recognizable.

After weighing the risks and benefits of irradiation, this procedure continues to be the most recommended method of decontamination. This is especially important when cannabis is prescribed to seriously ill and possibly immune-deprived patients who have an increased risk of suffering from a microbial infection. Irradiation is useful in killing bacteria, insects or other living contaminants which may exist in, or on, a medical cannabis product. It is important to remember that treated product does not become radioactive and there is no negative environmental impact resulting from the process. For more questions on how Aphria uses this process, please call us directly at 1-844-427-4742 or email us at info@aphria.com