Cultivation Archives - Green Market Report

StaffMay 6, 2021
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While millions of Americans are getting ready to enjoy the summer for the first time in over a year, the cannabis industry is already gearing up for the upcoming fall harvest. Taking place between October and early November, the period is called Croptober, and it is a time when roughly 80%-85% of the cannabis industry’s outdoor cannabis is harvested. 

The reason why the industry harvests the majority of outdoor cannabis during this specific period has to do with the plant itself. Cannabis is an annual plant, which means it lives out its entire life cycle in a single growing season. 

Planted in the early Spring, the cannabis plant starts to produce buds in Fall as the days start to shorten, typically becoming ready for harvest around mid-October. For outdoor cultivators, this is the only time of the year they will harvest their crop, so it is both a time of celebration and great stress.

In many of the parts of the country where cannabis cultivation is big business, like the fabled Emerald Triangle in Northern California, Croptober has taken on an air akin to many of the harvest festivals celebrated throughout the world. 

Cannabis farms often give tours, parties are thrown, and while consumers can’t pick buds off the plant like apples, there is an influx of cheap high-quality cannabis. It is this celebratory atmosphere that first attracted Case Mandel, the Co-Founder of Cannadips, to set up shop in Humboldt County.

“I first visited Humboldt County in 2003 when I right out of High School,” Mandel recalls. “There were so many beautiful farms and incredible cultivators. I was completely astounded.”

Cannadips CBD manufacturers a smokeless CBD pouch that works as a dipping alternative. With a retail footprint of 6,000 stores, Cannadips CBD is one of the area’s largest hemp manufacturers.  Cannadips also manufactures a cannabis pouch in Humboldt County as well.

Looking to draw more attention to the season, Cannadips recently announced its first annual Croptober Getaway Sweepstakes where five winners are given an all-expenses-paid trip to Humboldt County to experience some of California’s most prominent cannabis farms and experience Croptober first-hand. The winners will also be treated to a party at the historic Arcata Theater Lounge, as well as a relaxing tour of Humboldt Count’s redwood forests and beaches. 

“Humboldt is not what they see on Netflix’s Murder Mountain or Dateline NBC, it’s the Emerald Triangle, we are excited to share its shine.”

The contest runs from May 1 to June 30, and those interested in signing up can register on the Cannadips website. Four of the winners will be chosen through a random drawing, with one winner to be announced every two weeks. The fifth winner will be the person with the best Instagram post with the #Croptober2021 hashtag.

“This type of access would never have been possible in the last twenty years,” says Mandel. “These Croptober winners won’t be touring corporate cannabis monocrops, they’ll be exploring the best outdoor sun-grown cannabis from some of Humboldt’s best cultivators.  It is refreshing we can share the amazing innovation and craft legally that has made our region famous.”

 


StaffApril 29, 2021
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Editors Note: This is a guest post.

Terpenes can be found in almost all species of flora. They are chiefly responsible for the aromatic and flavor diversity in the plant kingdom.  Simple chemical compounds, terpenes are created to help plants defend themselves against threats and to attract beneficial species.  In Cannabis sativa, terpenes are produced in the resin glands along with the cannabinoids and often work together to enhance or alter the effects of one another. This list houses information about the most common and abundant terpenes found in cannabis, including their flavors and known medical benefits. For full guides and artistic visualizations, view the terpene infographics from Goldleaf.

LINALOOL

This terpene’s hallmark is its floral scent, reminiscent of sharp and sweet wildflowers. It is also found in lavender, laurel, birch and rosewood.  It has calming and sedative properties and can help relieve anxiety.

Medical value: analgesic, anti-epileptic, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety.

β- CARYOPHYLLENE

Known to have an aroma that is peppery, woody and spicy, this is the only terpene proven to interact with the endocannabinoid system (CB2) in our bodies. It is also found in basil, oregano, pepper, and cinnamon leaves.

Medical value: anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-spasmodic, sleep aid.

α PINENE

The most common and abundant naturally occurring terpene, it is a main contributor to cannabis’ tell-tale piney aroma. It is also found in many conifer species and herbs such as sage. It is known to enhance memory and alertness.

Medical value: anti-inflammatory, bronchodilator.

MYRCENE

Described as earthy and musky, this terpene is prevalent in most all strains of cannabis. It is known to enhance THC uptake and contributes to the sedating and calming effects often associated with indica. Myrcene is also found in mango, hops, thyme, and citrus.

Medical value: analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, sedative.

HUMULENE

Another strong contributor to the tell-tale “earthy” aroma of cannabis, this terpene is also present in hops and coriander. Humulene can act as an appetite suppressant and offers potent anti-inflammatory abilities.

Medical value: anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, analgesic.

TERPINEOL

Due to its pleasant aroma reminiscent of lilac and flower blossoms, it is often used in cosmetic products such as soaps. It is often found in higher concentrations alongside pinene, which unfortunately may mask its scent.  It is known to have relaxing effects.

Medical value: antibacterial, anti-anxiety, immunostimulant.

LIMONENE

This terpene is normally found in higher concentrations in sativa varieties and is associated with elevated mood. It can be found in the rinds of various citrus fruits, juniper, and mint. Limonene has a unique ability to quicken the absorption of other terpenes in the body.

Medical value: anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, gastroesophageal reflux, antifungal.

TERPINOLENE

Having a piney aroma with notes of herbs and wildflower, this terpene is often used in perfumes and as an insect repellant.  It is also found in rosemary, sage, and Monterey cypress. Terpinolene has been shown to exhibit antioxidant and anticancer effects and as a sedative.

Medical value: sedative, anti-tumor.

GERANIOL

Creating a delightfully sweet smell akin to roses, this terpene is present in geraniums, lemons, and tobacco and is often used in perfumes and other cosmetics. It is also an effective mosquito repellant.

Medical value: neuroprotective, anti-fungal, anti-tumor.

VALENCENE

Getting its name due to its high concentration in Valencia Oranges, this terpene has a citrusy sweet aroma.  It is also found in grapefruits, tangerines, and some herbs. It is common in many strains of cannabis and is shown to be a powerful tick and mosquito repellant.

Medical value: *still being researched.

OCIMENE

Found in a wide variety of botanicals, it is known for its sweet and woodsy scent. Plants use ocimene to defend themselves against pests in nature. It is also found in mint, parsley, pepper, basil, orchids, and kumquats.

Medical Value: antifungal.

BISABOLOL

Also carrying a distinct floral aroma, this terpene is prevalent in chamomile and likely responsible for many of its medical benefits. It can be used to heal wounds due to its antibacterial properties.

Medical value: antibacterial, anti-inflammatory.

EUCALYPTOL

Commonly associated with the Eucalyptus tree, this terpene has an iconic spicy and fresh scent. It is used in a variety of products such as cough suppressants, mouthwash, and deodorants and has many proven uses. It is a mainstay in traditional Chinese and ayurvedic medicine.

Medical value: analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, sleep aid.

_

Written by: Alfonso Colasuonno, Researcher and Writer at Goldleaf Ltd

Sources: National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI); SC Labs Inc; “Cannabis sativa: The Plant of the Thousand and One Molecules“, Andre CM, Hausman JF, Guerriero G.

 


Julie AitchesonApril 21, 2021
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4/20 and Earth Day 2021 are both upon us this week, and with those dates comes an opportunity to take a good, hard look at the environmental impacts of the cannabis industry as well as legislative responses to those challenges. Resource use and extraction, air and water quality, and waste management are just a few of the environmental issues confronting indoor, outdoor, and greenhouse cultivation operations. Worth a staggering $61 billion, the cannabis industry is profiting heavily from its current practices, so it stands to reason that legislators are looking to heightened restrictions, green incentives, and higher permitting and licensing fees to offset some of the environmental costs of production and manufacturing.

Aside from the many negative impacts of illegal grow operations, including the use of banned insecticides, illegal diversion of stream water, and unchecked chemical runoff, legal operations can still pack a devastating environmental punch. Soil degradation increased load on water and energy infrastructure systems, and carbon and volatile organic compound emissions from terpenes all have scientists, activists, and lawmakers scrambling to make sure the cannabis market’s booming profits don’t come at the expense of planetary health.

The Puget Sound Clear Air Agency in Washington State has imposed a requirement that recreational marijuana producers and processors comply with air quality regulations after they have obtained licensing. This involves paying a fee for a Notice of Construction permit that details odor control equipment and solvent usage information, as well as submitting a plan view of the facility, a schematic drawing of the HVAC system, and an environmental checklist among other requirements. In California, state government-run Water Boards require permitted growers to register water rights and follow strict guidelines that include prohibitions on diverting surface water from April through October and irrigating with stored water during the dry season. Any non-consumer wastes produced in cannabis operations manufacturing vape cartridges and pens in the state are required to be managed by electronics recyclers, which puts California ahead of most states in this particular practice.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection prohibits “the emission into the outdoor atmosphere of any malodorous contaminants”, which has shut down more than one processing hemp drying operation in the state while encouraging others to upgrade their generators and air scrubbers to keep business running. Other states such as New Jersey have regulated certain areas as protected lands, such as shellfish habitat, wetlands, and riparian zones, which require special permits or authorization in order to be used for cannabis cultivation. 

In Colorado, Boulder has city codes that require marijuana businesses to utilize renewable energy to offset 100% of their electricity consumption as part of Boulder’s Sustainability and Climate Action Plan.  In addition, several local governments in Colorado, in conjunction with the state, have prepared a “Cannabis Environmental Best Practices Guide”, but as long as adherence to measures such as these remains elective or wildly variable from state to state, both illegal and legal marijuana operations will continue to stymy efforts to ensure that that the cannabis boom is not a bust for the environment.


StaffApril 14, 2021
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California-based Connected International Inc. also known as Connected Cannabis Co. closed on a $30 million capital raise consisting of debt and equity financing. The round was led by existing investors Navy Capital and One Tower Group with participation from new investors Emerald Park Capital, an affiliate of Bryant Park Capital, and Presidio View Capital. Connected previously raised $25 million in a Series A round of funding in July 2019.

“We’re thrilled to bring Emerald Park Capital and Presidio View Capital into the Connected family and welcome back our long-term partners that have supported our company’s mission from the very beginning,” said Sam Ghods, CEO of Connected. “We are steadfast in our development of new, best-in-class genetics and our production of top-quality flower that has resulted in impressive growth and unwavering customer loyalty. That same commitment and quality that we’ve prided ourselves on from day one will stay with us as we enter additional states. We look forward to bringing our true product and brand to consumers in new markets –  that is our highest priority every time we look at expansion.”

Connected has been building a proprietary genetics portfolio of premium strains and meticulously cultivating cannabis at scale since 2009 and is considered by some to be the pioneer of “designer weed.” Connected is currently EBITDA-positive.

Connected has won several awards for its strains and has experienced monumental 68% year-over-year growth with 75% revenue CAGR through 2021. Connected and its partner brand, Alien Labs, acquired by Connected in 2017, recently took home a total of five top-ten wins across the Indoor Flower and Live Resin Cartridges categories of the 2021 Emerald Cup – Northern California’s premier cannabis destination and the industry’s most prestigious award. Connected led the indoor flower category with their Gelonade strain taking first place while Alien Labs’ Biskante placed third.

“Connected’s product quality is unmatched across the cannabis industry, as exemplified by their dedicated mass following,” said Chetan Gulati, Partner of Navy Capital. “The company’s success is largely due to their proprietary genetics as well as their ability to grow premium cannabis efficiently and at scale without compromising on quality. We look forward to seeing the team bring that same top-shelf quality to more U.S. markets.”

The company currently operates in California and Arizona. By virtue of its organically developed and trusted reputation, Connected’s expansion into Arizona in November 2020 has seen continuously high sales since launching.

With the additional capital, Connected will accelerate its national expansion while maintaining control over its state-of-the-art cultivation techniques. The company plans to focus on states with robust cannabis cultures and promising potential for sustained growth, such as Nevada with its entertainment and cannabis tourism and Michigan with its continued increase in sales.

“Connected is a legacy brand that’s established itself as a market leader based entirely on their unique, premium cannabis strains and flower,” said Joel Magerman, Managing Partner of Emerald Park Capital. “Over the last decade, Connected has built a best-in-class team across departments, from cultivation to marketing. We are eager to see what innovations and additional value the team will bring as they continue on their path to becoming a leading national brand.”

 


StaffApril 9, 2021
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In 2020, Trulieve created a new brand called the “Old Hippie Stash.” The Bellamy Brothers David and Howard hand selected attributes for three stains of medical cannabis.

With the 50th anniversary of ‘420’ just around the corner, Trulieve, Florida’s largest chain of medical marijuana treatment centers, is celebrating one year of collaboration with celebrity country music band “The Bellamy Brothers.”

The three strains of medical marijuana available only at Trulieve are “Reggae Cowboy,” “Afterglow,” and “Big Love.” The Reggae Cowboy and Big Love strains are Sativa hybrids, while Afterglow is a straight Indica to promote relaxation and can help with pain relief.

Valda Coryat, Trulieve’s Chief Marketing Officer, along with David and Howard Bellamy (The Bellamy Brothers) were interviewed by Lori Reese of MarijuanaDoctors.com via Zoom. The live interview shares a candid discussion that fans will want to hear. From life on the “Honky Tonk Ranch” to the changing role of medical cannabis as an alternative medicine. The award-winning musical duo also talks about the country music talents that were lost due to COVID-19, and their songs about the pandemic, including “Rednecks Looking for Paychecks” and “No Country Music for Old Men.” A tribute to Kenny Rogers, Charlie Pride, and other legendary country crooners.

The one-year anniversary of the “Old Hippie Stash” is April 9th. The Bellamy Brothers and Trulieve are celebrating by giving away 15 gift boxes for fans. Participants (USA only and 21-years of age and older) can enter on the MarijuanaDoctors.com blog post about the interview: https://www.marijuanadoctors.com/blog/bellamy-brothers-1st-anniversary-interview/

Winners will be randomly selected and announced by MarijuanaDoctors.com on Facebook, on Monday April 12th.

 


StaffMarch 22, 2021
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Hydroponic chain store giant GrowGeneration Corp . (NASDAQ: GRWG ) is buying the leading wholesale agriculture platform Agron.io for an undisclosed amount. GrowGen said it expects Agron will contribute $20 million in revenue for this year. The stock was trading higher in early trading to lately sell at $56.94.

Agron.io offers commercial pricing, real-time inventory, and one of the largest product catalogs in the industry, with over 10,000 products in over 60 categories, including greenhouses, vertical benching, controlled environmental systems, HVAC, and industrial equipment. The platform manages real-time product updates, tier-pricing changes, case quantities, pallet quantities, profit margin projections, hazmat fees, ETL/UL listings and state chemical regulations, as well as guarantees the latest shipping quotes using API generated pallet and box shipping rates.

“As additional legal cannabis markets continue to open up across the country, we are expanding and enhancing our commercial services, from facility design and consulting to volume product pricing, to deliver best-in-class support for large growers,” said Darren Lampert , GrowGen’s CEO. “The Agron.io platform is a strategic and exciting addition to our portfolio and comes with a highly skilled team of customer service experts trained to help growers navigate the complexities of planning, growing and sustaining a commercial agriculture facility.”

The company said in a statement that Agron.io was launched in 2016 and is based in Denver, Colorado. Agron.io’s team of specialists has overseen more than 200 buildouts, managing every aspect from light layouts and photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) calculations, to vertical benching, irrigation and HVAC design, to fertigation and integrated pest management. They also provide financing options and manage administrative matters such as online purchasing history and order tracking.

“We developed Agron.io to provide next-level support for commercial growers, whose orders are extremely time-sensitive,” said John Dreibelbis, Agron.io’s CEO. “By joining forces with GrowGen, we can reach even more commercial growers with enhanced services, competitive pricing, and drop-shipping from the nearest GrowGen distribution center.”

With the addition of Agron.io Powered by GrowGen for commercial accounts, GrowGen said it will continue to operate its e-commerce platform GrowGeneration.com for retail and craft cannabis and organic produce growers. The GrowGeneration.com site features online ordering of over 10,000 products, ranging from organic nutrients and soils to advanced lighting technology; enhanced order tracking; buy online pick up in-store (BOPIS) capability; a virtual garden center with 16 product departments; and a GrowPro channel featuring educational and how-to content from grow specialists.

Jeff Gordon, Co-Founder, and CTO stated, “Agron.io was created to give commercial customers real-time data to manage their purchasing and logistics. Connecting our technology with the Grow Generation distribution network, and a world-class team of commercial experts, we now have a platform that is a complete game-changer for our evolving industry.”

The Agron.io acquisition is GrowGen’s eighth this year and follows yet another quarter of record earnings. In January, the Company pre-announced fourth-quarter revenues of $61.5 million, bringing full-year 2020 revenue to $192 million , up 140% from 2019. Same-store sales increased 63% for full-year 2020, compared to the previous year. The Company also raised its 2021 revenue guidance to $335 million – $350 million and raised its 2021 adjusted EBITDA guidance to $38 million – $40 million. GrowGen plans to have 55 garden center locations by the end of 2021.


StaffFebruary 23, 2021
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GrowGeneration Corp . (NASDAQ: GRWG) is buying San Diego Hydroponics & Organics, a four-store chain of organic, hydroponic and aquaponics garden centers in San Diego, California. The company said that San Diego Hydroponics & Organics is San Diego County’s premier hydroponic equipment supplier, with annual revenues approaching $10 million. GrowGen did not say what it paid for the company.

This latest acquisition brings the total number of GrowGen hydroponic garden centers to 50 stores.  In California, the country’s largest legal cannabis market, GrowGen now has 17 stores,  with eight of those stores located in Southern California.

Southern California is a priority market for GrowGeneration, and we are excited to add San Diego Hydroponics & Organics to our ever-expanding footprint there,” said Darren Lampert, GrowGen’s CEO. “As the leading hydroponics supplier, San Diego Hydroponics & Organics strategically positions GrowGen to conveniently provide our services to commercial growers in the Southern California market.”

San Diego Hydroponics & Organics was founded in 2001 by Todd Kent. The company first opened its doors with an 800-square-foot store in Pacific Beach, California, and has since expanded to four locations with more than 20,000-square-feet of retail space and 20 employees, who will join GrowGeneration’s team of over 500 grow professionals as part of the transaction.

“Since 2001, we’ve remained committed to our goal of supplying Southern California with top-quality products, cutting-edge horticultural technology, and unbeatable customer service. Our partnership with GrowGen, the nation’s clear leader in hydroponics, allows us to marry decades of combined cultivation expertise and knowledge to better serve the Southern California market,” said San Diego Hydroponics & Organics’ founder Todd Kent .

The San Diego Hydroponics & Organics acquisition is GrowGen’s fourth this year and follows yet another quarter of record earnings. In January, GrowGen pre-announced fourth-quarter revenues of $61.5 million, bringing full-year 2020 revenue to $192 million, up 140% from 2019. Same-store sales increased 63% for full-year 2020, compared to the previous year. The Company also raised its 2021 revenue guidance to $335 million – $350 million and raised its 2021 adjusted EBITDA guidance to $38 million – $40 million. GrowGen plans to have 55 garden center locations by the end of 2021.

The four analysts covering GrowGen have an average price target of $56.43 according to Yahoo Finance. The stock was lately trading at $49.50, down from its 52-week high of $67.


StaffFebruary 1, 2021
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It seems a month doesn’t go by without  GrowGeneration Corp . (NASDAQ: GRWG ) making another acquisition. February is only just starting  and the hydroponic store chain has said it is buying Grow Depot, a two-store chain in Auburn and Augusta, Maine. The acquisition brings the total number of GrowGen hydroponic garden centers in Maine to five, with locations in AuburnAugustaBiddefordBrewer, and York.

“It’s a very exciting time in Maine’s adult-use market, and we’re pleased to expand our footprint in the state through our acquisition of Grow Depot, which has proudly served the Central Maine area for nearly a decade,” said Darren Lampert, GrowGeneration’s CEO. “With our expanded footprint, the Maine market is expected to generate 2021 annual revenues of over $20 million for GrowGen.”

Founded in 2012 by Jim Parisi, Grow Depot carries a large catalog of equipment for indoor growing and hydroponic systems. As part of the transaction, both Jim and Anthony Parisi, with over two decades of experience in the indoor growing supply industry, and their 10 employees will join GrowGen’s team of more than 450 grow professionals.

The Grow Depot acquisition is the company’s second of the year and follows yet another quarter of record earnings. Last month, the Company pre-announced fourth-quarter revenues of $61.5 million, bringing full-year 2020 revenue to $192 million, up 140% from 2019. Same-store sales increased 63% for full-year 2020, compared to the previous year. The Company also raised its 2021 revenue guidance to $335 million – $350 million and raised its 2021 adjusted EBITDA guidance to $38 million – $40 million. GrowGen plans to have 55 garden center locations by the end of 2021.

The stock hit the $53 mark in January, but then it seemed investors took some profits as the stock has slid back to the $43 range. Both Roth Capital and Ladenburg Thalmann downgraded the company to neutral which may have been the reason why the stock slipped. The average price target is $52.71 according to Yahoo! Finance.


Debra BorchardtJanuary 29, 2021
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Indoor agriculture company Agrify Corporation (Nasdaq: AGFY) has listed its shares on the NASDAQ after pricing its upsized initial public offering of 5,400,000 shares of common stock at a price of $10.00 per share for total gross proceeds of $54 million. The shares began trading on the Nasdaq Capital Market under the symbol “AGFY” on Thursday.

Raymond Nobu Chang, President & CEO of Agrify said, “We’re beyond thrilled to officially announce our IPO. This is an incredible step forward to solidifying Agrify’s foothold in the indoor agriculture and tech space. We look forward to empowering a generation of modern growers to achieve better consistency and quality through the understanding that cultivation techniques must evolve to meet the market’s future needs.” The company said that it does not cultivate, come in contact with, distribute or dispense cannabis or any cannabis derivatives that are currently prohibited under U.S. federal law, but notes that its cultivation solutions can be used within indoor grow facilities by cannabis cultivators if they choose to do so.
In addition to the shares that began trading, Agrify has granted the underwriters a 45-day option to purchase up to an additional 810,000 shares of common stock to cover over-allotments, if any. The offering is expected to close on February 1, 2021, subject to customary closing conditions. Maxim Group LLC and Roth Capital Partners are acting as joint book-running managers for the offering. The company reported net revenue of $4 million in 2019, which grew to $7.7 million for nine months ending September 30, 2020. The net losses were $8.5 million for those nine months in 2020.

Backlog

As of December 31, 2020, Agrify said its backlog, which consists of purchase orders or purchase commitments, was $59.3 million. In the company’s filing, it said, “We expect to recognize revenue of approximately $40 million in 2021 and the rest gradually thereafter. As of December 31, 2020, we have $105 million of carefully vetted potential sales opportunities (which we refer to as our qualified pipeline). Of this, $78 million of the qualified pipeline was generated through our company directly and $27 million through our Agrify-Valiant Joint-Venture. We are presently working to convert this pipeline into confirmed bookings over the next 12 months.”

Horizontal Modular Growing

“We believe that our AVFU is the only product on the market that offers a modular, compartmentalized micro-climate growing system for indoor vertical farming. These 8.5 ft. long x 4 ft. wide x 9.3 ft. tall units each have two tiers of growing space. They are designed to line up horizontally in rows, and they can be stacked vertically up to 3 units tall allowing a total of 6 layers of canopy, effectively taking advantage of previously unused indoor vertical space. The AVFU is a premium indoor grow solution with an MSRP starting at $20,000, and our most recent AVFU deals have been for between 60 and 535 units as our new customers become satisfied that our grow solutions will be an instrumental part of their operations moving forward. We are targeting large scale projects that range in size from $1 million to over $10 million in AVFU hardware sales before any additional revenue from our Agrify Insights™ software and ancillary products and services are realized.”

“A key component of our cultivation solution is our proprietary software, Agrify Insights, which has been developed in-house. This cloud-based software interfaces with a microservices middleware and relational database that integrates with our hardware and provides our managers, facility owners, facility managers, and growers real-time control and monitoring of facilities, growing conditions, and insights into both production and profit optimization. The combination of precise environmental control and automation with data collection and actionable insights empowers our customers to be more efficient, more productive, and more intelligent about how they run their businesses. We believe that the robust data analytics capabilities from our Agrify Insights platform coupled with our AVFU system is enabling our customers to transform their businesses and quality of the product they are cultivating.”


Gretchen GaileyDecember 23, 2020
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Editors Note: This is the final story in a three-part series.

Pests and contaminates are a given in the cultivation of cannabis, and most standards developed to control these on other agricultural products don’t apply. This is why the U.S. Pharmacopeia has stepped in to provide analytical methods and risk-based limits for the industry to help protect public health, including looking at how cannabis is grown, not just at how it hits the shelves.

“Cannabis is susceptible to pest infestation whether grown indoors or outdoors, which means cultivators often turn to pesticides to ensure their harvest. However, pesticides can be quite dangerous if not used appropriately to make sure residue levels are not higher than they should be. This could be especially true if consumed by someone with a health condition who may be taking the plant for medicinal purposes” said Robin Marles, Ph.D., chair of the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) Botanical Dietary Supplements and Herbal Medicines Expert Committee.

USP has assembled an expert panel of clinicians, scientists and industry representatives from around the world to provide necessary information and guidance all laid out in the Journal of Natural Products, Cannabis Inflorescence for Medical Purposes: USP Considerations for Quality Attributes.

Recent cases in the U.S. and Canada of consumers being exposed to residues of pesticides unauthorized for use or used off-label on cannabis have resulted in recalls and increased public and regulatory concerns. In the U.S., crop-specific pesticide limits are established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for foods, but no approved pesticide or pesticide limits exist for cannabis. And levels of pesticides deemed appropriate to protect public health and safety for food products may not necessarily apply to cannabis, since cannabis is typically smoked or vaped.

Although U.S. state requirements may provide some guidance to control specific pesticide contaminants, additional pesticide residues that are not expressly permitted by these states may also be detected on cannabis due to environmental drift or persistence or through incidental contamination. 

“Even if you do not apply pesticides, you might find pesticide contamination from neighboring agricultural fields through environmental drift,” said Nandu Sarma, Director, Dietary Supplements and Herbal Medicines at USP. 

To date, Canada has the strictest requirements for pesticides among countries and U.S. states that regulate the use of cannabis. USP has pesticide standards for oral botanical drugs, but they are not exhaustive. Many of the pesticides used to control pests for cannabis such as powdery mildew, botrytis or spider mites are not listed in USP’s general chapter that describes pesticide levels for botanical dietary supplements.

Based on the multiple possibilities for contamination for pesticides, USP recommends  a cautious approach, with maximum acceptable exposure limits for each pesticide that are 1,000 fold lower than the acceptable daily intake limits established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO).

“It is important that USP guidelines address the quality controls for actual plant material as the starting point, besides the quality controls for the finished product” said Ikhlas Khan, Ph.D., USP Cannabis Expert Panel chair. 


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