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One concern with any ingestible product is always, “What’s in it?” And in some cases,onit. In the agriculture business, industry pesticides were developed to help increase food quality and supply by eliminating pests that were historically a nuisance. Whether this development was a good or a bad decision became debated shortly after pesticides gained widespread use.
Today, maximum residue limits (MRLs) of pesticides are allowed on the foods we eat every day. In 2016, USDA data showed that 85 percent of foods tested have pesticide residue. Now, with the emergence of cannabis as a legitimate agricultural industry with hundreds of consumable products, pesticides are once again at the forefront of discussion — and for good reason.
Back in the Day…
Before the cannabis industry came out of the black market, there was no way of knowing how your cannabis was grown. You didn’t know if it was organically sun-grown or greenhouse – grown with Eagle 20 fungicide. Now, with labs popping up throughout cannabis legal states, we have a better idea of what we’re getting.
Or Do We?
With little guidelines or consistency, each lab test may have a different result. For example, this phenomenon can be seen in the California market. As a medical cannabis company owner in Cali, I saw firsthand how easy it was to receive three different lab results from three different certified labs. If you’re using one lab and your results are clean, and the distributor tests your products with their preferred lab, the results could end up being dirty and pesticide residue may appear.
It’s a Pervasive Problem
In Washington state in 2018, test results for products from the IONIC vape company came back with above-legal limits of the pesticide myclobutanil. The independent test was done by one of their customers, Uncle Ike’s, a dispensary chain throughout Washington.
“Legal limits in the state of Washington [of myclobutanil] is 0.2 ppm. The crude oil processor who sold IONIC their material concentrated the legal limits up to higher levels, but still not testing above legal limits. The final process produced the above-legal amounts, for which there wasn’t strict testing prior to this incident,” explains Adrienne Airhart, IONIC’s director of social media. “Luckily, because we are small-batch, we were able to identify, isolate and administer a voluntary product withdrawal to replace the affected products. We’ve since scrubbed our machines clean, as well.”
What Can Be Done?
IONIC took everything off the shelves at Uncle Ike’s and immediately replaced it with a clean batch. Now, even though it’s not required by the state, IONIC tests every single batch leaving their facility.
IONIC is available in both California and Oregon, which have higher standards for testing than Washington, so they’ve implemented the same procedures, as well as some extra precautions, notes Airhart: “Testing every batch is expensive, but it’s worth it to provide clean product for our consumers and for ourselves. This is really important to us. Nothing is leaving our facility if it doesn’t meet our new standards, IONIC Certified Clean — which means it meets or exceeds legal state limits for all categories of testing. Everything moving out of our warehouse as of November 2018 is IONIC Certified Clean.”
For their IONIC Certified Clean standard, they’re sending out a sample of every batch they receive to be tested. If it fails, the batch is destroyed, they clean out the tank and start over. It’s another costly process, but for a company that puts quality first, it’s a true sign of their commitment to higher standards for superior products.
Moving forward, IONIC is encouraging producers, processors and retailers to join them in creating safer standards in the industry — exceeding state regulations to ensure the safety of all consumers. “We’re paving the way, but we are happy to be in good company in this movement towards safer testing standards,” says Airhart. “Check our website for the latest test results on all of our batches.”