Believe it or not, recalls over harmful molds and yeasts have hit Colorado's cannabis industry — and probably not at a rate that reflects the real size of the problem. The state Marijuana Enforcement Division and Department of Agriculture don't have the resources to keep an eye on every cannabis cultivation in the state, and only a handful of city health agencies have taken it upon themselves to police the safety and health impacts of their licensed pot grows. In a twenty-month span from 2017 to 2019, the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment issued at least four separate mold recalls on cannabis grows that affected dozens of dispensaries.
As cannabis becomes more of an agricultural trade, microbial and pesticide contamination issues will increase, according to Willow Industries founder Jill Ellsworth. Using her experience in fighting microbials in the juicing world, Ellsworth started a company that decontaminates moldy pot to the point where she says it's safe to use. In fact, health agencies in Colorado and other states with legal pot have even released her client's cannabis from quarantine after using her machine, citing successful lab tests.
"When I came up with this idea, it was important to use technology that was being utilized in other industries," Jill explains. "We use ozone gas as a medium to decontaminate. It's used in food and agriculture, so when I decided to use it with cannabis, I spent a lot of time with research and development. We found that the ozone molecules will oxidize any contaminants on the flower: mold, yeast, mildew, bacteria, E. coli and salmonella. It attacks those pathogens and breaks down the cells so they're non-recognizable and can't get a consumer sick."
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