From Food to Cannabis Buds, X-Rays Are Transforming Supply Chains, An Expert Explains How And Why

When we think about X-rays, the first thing that comes to mind is usually radioactivity. But what if not all things radiated are radioactive? What if a lot of the food we eat is radiated for our own safety? And what about X-rays for cannabis?

Irradiated For Decades

Well, indeed, a lot of the food we import into the U.S. is irradiated, from spinach to spices and that often takes place at the borders and for good reason. Electromagnetic waves, aka X-rays, can go through anything, except for lead of course. They can decompose living microorganisms, brush away bacteria and mold that can harm human health and ultimately disrupt supply chains.

X-rays also provide more than food safety. They can remediate any product (including cannabis) that has been affected by microorganisms such as mold and bacteria, thus protecting the health of consumers while saving businesses thousands of dollars.

“Spices have been irradiated for decades now. Can you ever remember any of the spices in your kitchen cabinet having mold on them or going bad? That's because most spices are irradiated. This technology has been used in other markets for a long time,” explains Mark Clemons general manager of VJ Scientific, the cannabis industry division of VJ Group, a leading global provider of X-ray solutions for medical, pharmaceutical, food, defense and manufacturing firms.

“X-rays reach where other tools can’t, to completely break DNA bonds killing mold and bacteria. You wouldn't buy bread with mold on it. So why do you settle for moldy cannabis?” Clemons told Benzinga. He noted that in a context of high competition between operators, ensuring 100% clean cannabis consumers is becoming an upward market trend.

Looking For Premium? Clean Cannabis Is A Trend

“Clean cannabis in general, I think is a trend. You never know what you're going to get with the illicit market,” Clemons added.

While consumers might wonder whether or not X-rays are safe, Clemons explained they can be sourced electronically. And, although operators need about 12,000 watts, most cannabis facilities already have that kind of power available. Is it compliant with the FDA?

“The states have to comply with that for any equipment with radiation, so yes, our solution for pathogen management and remediation, called the CX-1000 is compliant with all federal, international and state regulations,” Clemons explained.

“Something on the order of 10 to 20% of all cannabis flowers has some sort of pathogen, and our machine is capable of decontaminating up to 25 pounds per cycle in about 8 hours with less than the standard radiation level.”

Clemons called X-rays the best solution. “X-rays are the best solution because a lot of the mold and bacteria are constantly growing, they can start on the very inside of the bud, and as the bud grows, it builds inside, trapped in between the layers and layers of bud.”

So, can X-rays contribute to the emergence of a new premium segment in the cannabis industry? Something like, "X-ray-certified 100%-clean cannabis brands for the conscious consumer."

“Absolutely. That is the big difference between the legal and the illicit market,” Clemons replied. “For a craft cannabis operator looking to differentiate its products in the legal market, and move up the ladder towards medical quality, clean cannabis is its best option.”

X-Rays Don’t Care

With over 30 years of experience in manufacturing, the engineers at VJ had cannabis operators in mind when they designed an X-ray solution for all. The point was to make them as user friendly as possible. They adapted the machine to use the industry’s standard bins and trays that can load up almost anything.

“Some states require testing in the final packaging so you can put in finished products, it doesn't matter because X-rays don't care. The software calculates everything and can call up a recipe that a process engineer has developed for specific strains,” Clemons explained. “In 2023 we will release an automated bin loading and unloading system so that operators can load up to 8 to 10 bins. They won't need anybody there, it keeps running 24/7.”

A Solution For All

As the cannabis industry matures, solventless cannabis extractions emerge as the people's preferred choice. Although solvents can kill mold and bacteria, consumers lean toward products they perceive as more natural.

But, could this nature-friendly consumer trend increase the risk of mold and bacteria proliferation in cannabis operations? Are X-rays a possibility for a solventless future?

According to Clemons, cultivators, MSO’s top brands, distributors and medium-sized companies should be looking at X-rays as an alternative capable of lowering risks and avoiding potential losses.

“You can either decontaminate your batch before you send it for testing. In which case it's going to pass the test, or you can take a chance and test before radiation. If it fails, operators can remediate it and get rid of the mold. Run it for 8 hours in the machine and send it back out for testing. It will pass,” Clemons said.

A Lot Of Money

“Somewhere between 10% and 20% of cannabis fails to test. And yes, prices have come down for wholesale flour in the US dramatically. The machine pays its cost in less than a year. If the flowers in a batch fail the testing and producers don't have a way to remediate it with an x-ray, then they turn it into a product for extraction, but the value of the flower used for extraction is far less than the flower used to sell in retail” Clemons noted.

“Think about it. If a company wants to remediate 15 pounds per shift, that's 75 pounds a week. If it's worth $1,000, that's $75,000 a week. That's a lot of money.”

Image Credits: leafit2stock on Shutterstock and LinkedIn.

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Posted In: BiotechCannabisNewsManagementSuccess StoriesExclusivesMarketsTechInterviewGeneralCannabis DecontaminationMark ClemonsREMEDIATIONVJ ScientificX-rays
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