“There are misconceptions about the effects of radiation. Not only is the treatment completely safe, but it is an extremely effective method in significantly reducing the microbe and bacteria count that is found in cannabis. Many growers underestimate this much-needed step and don’t plan for it in their business model,” said Bill McLaughlin (Director of Innovation) and Debra Peris (Marketing Manager) of Precision X-Ray. The company has been developing and manufacturing x-ray irradiators for over twenty years, with thousands of their systems used around the world for cancer research. Just a couple of months ago, they officially launched their cannabis solution: SteriRad - an anti-microbial treatment system for cannabis. “We realized that our technology would also be able to clean cannabis from microbes. With states regulating the microbial count on cannabis, cleaning is an important step that growers should plan for.”

The SteriRad system
The SteriRad is an x-ray cabinet that will irradiate the cannabis when it is inside. Drums securely hold the cannabis throughout the treatment process, preventing damage, while the AutoRoll module gently rolls the drum throughout the x-ray treatment process, providing dose uniformity and decontamination. “This also means that no manipulation is necessary, as the cannabis does not have to be flipped manually. Moreover, the system is fully enclosed, meaning that there is no radiation concerns to outside personnel.”

The Precision team works with the grower to set up all the protocols that are needed based on the product weight, density, and microbial count. “All the grower has to do is turn the system on, load the drum, and push a button to start the program. No medical background or x-ray experience is needed, as our team is there to guide the users and the system is very user-friendly,” Debra explains.

Maintaining quality and preventing regrowth
According to Bill, one of the major benefits of x-ray technology is that it does not impact the cannabinoid or terpene levels or other inherent properties of cannabis, like the look, smell, and taste. “Some other technologies can add a smell to the prior cause discoloration. We have performed hundreds of tests done with our x-ray technology, comparing all those mentioned, especially cannabinoid levels before and after the treatment. The results showed that there were no visible or chemical changes. Of course, it is important to growers that those qualities are maintained throughout the process.”

Moreover, Debra explains that an x-ray is a penetrating force that is able to go through the entire bud. “Cannabis buds are very densely packed, so microbes are not just on the surface but also on the inside. X-ray technology cleans the surface as well as the deep-seated microbes. One of the problems growers deal with is that bacteria and microbes can regrow inside the packaged end product. This can happen when the product is not fully cleaned. X-ray is one of those penetrating forces that will get through the entire bud and make sure that there is no regrowth down the line. Ultimately, it extends the shelf life of the product, making it safer for a longer time.”

The company has noticed that many in the industry have some concerns about using x-ray irradiation on their cannabis. “There is a misconception that some level of radioactivity is maintained once something is x-rayed. However, that is not true. X-ray works in an on/off manner. When you turn it off, the x-ray is gone, and it doesn’t hang around,” Debra explains. “From a cannabis standpoint, an x-ray does not have any latent effects because you are not ingesting radiation. Once the x-ray is off, it is out of the buds themselves, and there is no radioactivity.”

On top of that misconception, the team is busy educating the industry on the importance of cleaning the cannabis. Bill says that many growers don’t take the step into account, thinking that they can do fine without it. “A grower may think that their production is very clean, they have strict hygiene rules, and thus cleaning is not necessary. However, all it takes is for one person to forget a certain process, and they can contaminate everything. Some states are very strict when it comes to the regulations surrounding microbe levels. If you fail the test, some states require you to destroy your crop. While business plans often don’t include irradiation equipment, we are trying to teach growers the importance of this step. It can make the difference between business growth or business failure.”

For more information:
Precision X-Ray