How can Radio Frequency Technology Enhance the Quality of Cannabis
Marijuana stakeholders, including cultivators, extractors, distributors, brokers and consumers, have been proactive in the shadows for decades.
And now with the legalization of recreational use in many states, safety of the product is a prime concern for regulators and the public in general.
At present, Canada, Nevada and Colorado require total yeast and mold count or TYMC compliance testing to assess whether the cannabis so produced is safe for human consumption.
In Nevada and Colorado, regulatory authorities have made it a rule for cannabis to have a TYMC of below 10,000 CFU/g before it hits the market.
Licensed producers in Canada are also entailed to cater to TYMC thresholds.
As the industry grows with skyrocketing sales every year, it’s possible that TYMC or other tough testing measures for yeast and mold will be introduced in the heavily regulated recreational and medical markets.
The main objective of this post is to know about the latest technology in cultivating cannabis with acceptable TYMC.
But before that let’s get to know about TYMC and why it’s a crucial indicator in determining marijuana safety.
Yeast & Mold
Yeast and mold belong to the fungi family. Fungi grow in a wide range of temperatures and pH environments and can survive in rough conditions where bacteria normally cannot.
Mold is unable to thrive in an environment with less oxygen, while the survival of yeast does not depend on oxygen.
If grown for a long period, most molds can be identified visually, while the growth of yeast is normally recognized by fermentation and off-flavor.
Marijuana can be grown both indoors and outdoors.
Those that are grown outdoors are exposed to large populations and wider ranges of fungal species.
Also, secondary contamination is a common risk from handling during harvest and trimming both for indoor and outdoor plants.
If temperature and humidity are not carefully regulated, the final product could develop fungi, which cannot be fit for consumption.
What is TYMC?
TYMC is the number of colony forming units per gram of product, commonly represented as CFU/g.
It shows the population of live bacteria or mold and yeast in a product.
To find out the count, the marijuana sample is first placed in a petri dish, which is incubated at a given temperature for 3 to 5 days.
The mold and yeast will grow and reproduce during this time.
Each colony representing and individual or a group of mold and yeast produces a single spot on the dish and each spot is taken to be one colony.
TYMC indicates the cleanliness of the life cycle of the product: environment on which it’s grown, processing conditions, handling techniques and storage facilities.
Having heavy levels of mold, which is measured by TYMC, is considered risky and could be harmful to both the cultivators and consumers.
In a 2017 study by UC Davis Health, a Sacramento-based medical research center, it was seen that 20 cannabis samples procured from dispensaries in Northern California were found to contain many mold and yeast species, including Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus fumigates, Mucor and Cryptococcus.
Fumigates, flavus and niger are infamous for aflatoxin production, a lethal mycotoxin.
If a patient ingests and/or smokes marijuana with mold, the spores and/or toxins can thrive in the body and lungs.
Many complications have been reported in immunocompromised patients smoking pot with mold, including the elderly, and patients with autoimmune diseases and HIV.
This is the reason why stringent regulations have been put in place to restrict the permissible TYMC counts to safeguard the health of the consumer.
Using Radio Frequency To Regulate TYMC
This treatment enables them to cater to regulatory requirements on TYMC and preserve potency in cannabis through a non-toxic and natural process.
RF treats a product by exposing it or passing it through an electromagnetic field, which causes rapid oscillation of polar molecules and ions.
This generates thermal energy throughout the product, eventually destroying microorganisms.
RF treatment is vastly different from conventional heating methods where heat travels from the surrounding environment to the product.
Rather, it's an efficient and short process that allows for brief and gentle treatment.
The processing time for 20 pounds of marijuana using this method normally lasts for 15 minutes.
The cannabis is first placed in a box with probes to regulate temperature in real-time and then transferred to the RF cavity, where it’s kept for 10 minutes.
By establishing an oscillating electromagnetic field at approximately 27.12MHz between the two electrodes, products containing polar molecules like water oscillates when placed in the field.
The internal molecular gyration generates significant heat, which kills targeted contaminants, disinfecting and pasteurizing the raw material.
This makes it safe for inhalation and consumption.
According to Ketch DeGabrielle, a marijuana consultant at Los Suenos Farms, RF technology is the most reliable and effective technique for eradicating contaminants while preserving the integrity of the plant.
Benefits of Using RF For Cannabis Cultivation
Reduces TYMC to less than 10,000 CFU/g/ cycle
Treats batches of 3 to 20 within 10 minutes
Up to 100 lbs/hour of cannabis can be treated
Treats marijuana either pre or post cure
No decarboxylation or THC loss
Non-toxic, non-oxidizing and non-ionizing process
High terpene retention
Grows revenue by trimming product price erosion
Regulates temperature and processing in real time
No waste products or chemicals to dispose of
As we all know, the basic nature of cannabis puts any grower at risk.
So, having the skills and knowledge to avoid this problem can be extremely valuable.
With the rapid booming of the cannabis industry, businesses can leverage on RF technology to address important issues.
The method can now help cultivators and processors meet regulatory requirements, improve their crop yield and boost their bottom line.