Why Moldy Weed Is a Problem and How to Fix It


Canadian licensed producer Redecan suffered a massive blow to public relations after online reports accused the company of selling moldy marijuana and marijuana containing insects through the Ontario Cannabis Store.

The redecan weed photos uploaded on Reddit claim that the product contains mushrooms, insects and burrows from bugs. On Thursday, the company issued a voluntary withdrawal from a batch of marijuana which it said received five complaints. However, Redecan also said that "visually examined batch samples from this lot … and found no evidence of fungi in this sample." In another statement, LP said "there are no dead bugs in RedeCan products. There are no holes that have been buried by insects." The company went on to say that black spots in photos are not insects, but "non-volatile organic matter (carbohydrate protein). "Then, the main owner of LP, Rick Redecop told CityNews that it uses a mite called persimilis to ward off spider mites, as part of its organic growth process." At the microscopic level maybe this could happen to our products, "Redecop said.

This is an explanation of why old BC growers, Travis Lane did not buy.

"If you make a mistake like that and there is physical evidence that you made a mistake, don't lie about it," Lane, founder of the director of the Independent Cannabis Association of BC, who advocated craft farmers, told VICE. "The fact that they remember it makes it very clear that there is a problem."

Lane, who also runs a consulting firm specializing in organic weed cultivation, said that he did not see the problem of mold having so many health risks because it was a consumer quality problem.

He said marijuana is susceptible to fungi and it's common "when things aren't done right."

Lane said the two most common types of fungi for weeds are powdery mildew, light, a powdery layer that starts on leaves and rarely enters buds, and botrytis (bud buds). Botrytis "cleaves florets from the inside out" and has the potential to destroy plants, Lane said, noting that black market weeds have the same problem.

He said two key factors in preventing fungi from controlling moisture levels and the movement of air around plants. But it can be much more difficult in a 100,000 square foot room, he said, or a greenhouse that has been installed for weeds but was previously used for different plants.

"You have this huge huge space and you try to regulate a lot of plants. One thing can happen in one part of the room and can move around, "he said.

Ronan Levy, Chief Strategy Officer at Trait Biosciences, a biotechnology research company, told VICE that he considers print to be a big problem, both from a health and safety perspective and a business perspective.

"Of course, because you develop it on a large scale, there are more plants, there are more people, there are more movements. One small problem with fungi developed, it spread very quickly. "

Levy, who previously founded the Canadian Cannabis Clinics, which connects people with Canadian medical marijuana programs, said she would care about people who have damaged the immune system, such as cancer, consume products that contain mushrooms.

Under Health Canada regulations there are 22 approved LP pesticides that can be used. (Organigram, Hydrophotecary, Aurora, and Mettrum are all found to have used prohibited pesticides in the past.)

Levy said LP must limit the amount of pesticides to products before they are consumed, which generally means applying them early. But he said more and more producers are applying pesticides later in the growth process, which means there is more residue in the final product.

Trait is currently developing technology that will use bacteria that naturally occur in cannabis plants to make small molecules of ribonucleic acid to block the development of fungi and viruses.

"What happens is that you don't need to use pesticides at all to block the development of these diseases," he said, noting that technology might be another year or two to be brought to market.

Lane told VICE LPs can now pass the Canadian Health quality assurance test with mold at the factory. He has encouraged Health Canada to adopt special marijuana quality control tests and identify all specific pathogens for weeds.

VICE has contacted Redecan to get additional comments and await the company's response.

In a statement, the Ontario Cannabis Shop said it was taking steps to deal with fungal complaints with Redecan. This is offered to provide refunds to customers. OCS also advises customers with product complaints to contact Health Canada and LP directly.

Follow Manisha Krishnan in twitter.

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