Small Cannabis Farmers Struggle To Meet Strict Aspergillus Testing Standards

A small family-owned cannabis farm in Eugene, Oregon has gained recognition for its unique approach to cannabis cultivation. Myron Chadowitz and his cousin at Cannassentials utilize living garden beds and rely on the soil food web, insects and microorganisms, to grow cannabis naturally.

However, recent regulations from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) have left many farmers grappling with the challenge of testing for a ubiquitous mold called Aspergillus, pushing them to either invest in technological solutions to meet the standards, or, out of business.

Ubiquitous Aspergillus: Exposure Risks and Immune Vulnerabilities

Aspergillus is a pervasive mold present both indoors and outdoors, exposing individuals to its fungal spores daily, making it nearly impossible to entirely avoid inhalation.

According to the CDC, “It’s probably impossible to completely avoid breathing in some Aspergillus spores. For people with healthy immune systems, breathing in Aspergillus isn’t harmful. However, for people who have weakened immune systems, breathing in Aspergillus spores can cause an infection in the lungs or sinuses which can spread to other parts of the body.”

Concerns Among Cannabis Farmers

In a bid to ensure consumer safety, the OHA mandates that cannabis be free from any of the four pathogenic species of aspergillus, leading to concerns among farmers.

The prevalence of mold in the environment makes it difficult for growers to comply with the regulation without resorting to measures like irradiation or ozone treatment.

Furthermore, the high testing failure rate and additional costs threaten the livelihood of small family farms, prompting calls for alternative solutions and more comprehensive research on the risks posed by Aspergillus.

Balancing Regulatory Standards For Equity In Cannabis

While cannabis farmers can find opportunities in the legal market, they often face exclusion from it due to pharmaceutical regulations.

The compliance of small cannabis businesses becomes increasingly challenging as the pharmaceutical standards for the industry rise. This presents important questions about the feasibility and implications of such stringent standards for smaller players in the cannabis market.

Should sun-grown cannabis be held to standards comparable to organics in the food industry? Or should it be subject to the stringent health regulations of the pharmaceutical industry? And, What are the alternatives out there?

X Rays Can Help

Large and small-scale cannabis cultivation comes with the risk of biological hazards, such as mold and yeast. And a failed test can result in fines, litigation and the loss of business licenses.

VJ Group, a leading X-ray technology provider based in Massachusetts has launched a cannabis division, VJ Scientific, that manufactures high-performance and cost-effective X-ray solutions to safely clean cannabis.

VJ Scientific's flagship product is CX-1000, a revolutionary non-thermal, non-chemical cannabis decontamination machine.

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Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

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Posted In: BiotechCannabisNewsEntrepreneurshipFDALegalSmall BusinessMarketsGeneralAspergillus FungusCannassentialsMyron ChadowitzOregon cannabisOregon Health Authority (OHA)
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