Business Insider estimates the legal sale of marijuana will grow to more than $24.5 billion by the year 2021. This growth is fueled by new states legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana and the continuing demand of existing markets.
A recent study by the California Department of Food and Agriculture revealed that the state produced at least 13.5 million pounds of marijuana last year – which is five times more than what the state consumes. In this saturated growers market, how does one make their product stand out?
A recent report by ABC News found that much of the marijuana sold in dispensaries contained microbial contamination. Industry experts believe that only five percent of the cannabis currently sold has been safety tested for contamination. The problem isn’t just the cannabis on the market, but also the growing conditions which lead to contamination.
In the same report by ABC News, a cancer patient using marijuana while undergoing chemo died from a rare fungal infection. Tests later showed it was microbial contaminated marijuana that contributed to the death.
Whether your products are inhaled or edible, your end user will want them to be safe. In 1999, it was estimated that about 73,000 people in the U.S. got sick each year from E. coli. According to the CDC, about 60 cases were fatal. Because of strong oversight and regulations, those numbers have been dropping since then.
That’s just E. coli.
New regulations require cannabis to be tested for heavy metals, filth and foreign matter, terpenes, microbiological impurities such as mold, fungus and bacteria, residual pesticides, solvents and processing chemicals.
Can your products pass these tests? Retailers are looking for clean, safe cannabis to put on their shelves, and in California they have an excess of growers to choose from. It is a buyers’ market. Only products that consistently pass rigorous pathogen testing and don’t put the retailer in a bad position with contaminated product will be favored.
The state, cannabis retailers and end users are all demanding reliably nontoxic clean cannabis. Pathogen detection and cannabis testing labs are critical for meeting these demands. They can ensure conclusive proof of safe products.
Pathogen Testing and the Cannabis Industry
Pathogen testing can identify the root cause of microbial infection. With the right safeguards in place, growers can control the environment to eliminate bacteria and fungus before it becomes an issue. Pathogen detection screens products before they hit the market and potentially impacts consumer safety. It also protects buyers and retailers from costly legal issues, recalls and bad press.
As the market grows and marijuana is no longer a novelty product in the eyes of consumers, there will be increased expectations that products arriving for sale are safe. Just like purchasing produce at the grocerty store, cannabis products that make it to the retail shelf need to have a safety record that is unassailable.
Consumer trust is the holy grail of retail.
All eyes are on the Golden State as they forge ahead with cannabis lab testing regulations. Cleaner cannabis means higher quality more desirable cannabis which ultimately will command higher retail prices. Effective testing methods, such as DNA testing, will become a marketable benefit for the product and help drive sustainable profits for cannabis retailers.
With the availability of low-cost and highly-effective DNA testing kits, like PathogenDx, there’s no reason for growers to risk selling contaminated marijuana.