Growers are faced with a number of challenges, one of which is the question of how to handle the current pesticide situation. If you don’t have any kind of pest management technique, growing cannabis is going to be an extremely challenging endeavor for you. Unfortuitously, the plant has a natural susceptibility to spider mites, mold, mildew, bacteria, and other pests, all of which, if not managed properly, have the potential to destroy crops and goods. Organic cannabis cultivation is possible with the use of appropriate integrated pest management. Although it is well worth the effort, it requires a significant amount of time and a very high level of self-discipline. Some processors, particularly those who operate in markets with less stringent regulations, spray without discrimination. However, they put the health of their clients and their reputation at jeopardy.
Pesticides at certain usage levels are subjected to investigation and approval by the federal government for the majority of crop types. There is now no such regulation in place because cannabis is still prohibited at the federal level. As a direct consequence of this, states are moving to fill the void created by the federal government by adopting criteria that were just recently released by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA). Another organization, known as the Foundation of Cannabis Unified Standards (FOCUS), is in the process of formulating a set of global regulations.
The testing of products is now required before they may be sold in retail stores in states where it is legal. The flower or extracts that are not able to fulfill state criteria are either discarded or found a way to be sold illegally on the black market. Cannabis that is grown without the use of pesticides and according to organic standards does, without a doubt, command a higher price from some buyers, but not all. Pesticides, herbicides, and residual solvents are found in the vast majority of cannabis products marketed in the United States. This is primarily due to the difficulty of testing products and the absence of regulations in the industry, as well as the huge demand for cannabis.
In 2016, researchers at Steep Hill Labs in Berkeley found pesticides in 84 percent of the medical cannabis samples they analyzed. All of the samples came from different dispensaries in California. The dangers posed by edibles were among the highest. When marijuana was originally made legally available in Oregon, very few grow-ops were able to satisfy the state’s stringent requirements. Additionally, high quantities of pesticides were discovered in samples originating from the states of Colorado and Washington.
Only about 7 percent of the cannabis that is consumed across the country is reportedly put through lab tests, according to some estimates from industry professionals. Since there is a movement toward legalization, stricter testing will likely be required at some point in the not-too-distant future. As a consequence of this, soil-to-oil cultivators and processors ought to give careful consideration to the issue of pesticide cleanup. While the currently available extraction methods that make use of supercritical fluids or hydrocarbon solvents are helpful, they do not provide the purity level of at least 90 percent that is sought. There is a need for a subsequent step.
BETTER BOTANICAL REFINEMENT
There are a few different approaches of removing pesticides from the environment today. At the moment, the most common type of chromatography is called flash column chromatography, and it has been utilized for many years in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries. Despite its dependability, this approach might not be the most productive one. Chris Beaver, a processor consultant who specializes in startups, provides advice to Ai Vacuum, a company that focuses on the manufacture of equipment for the refinement of botanicals. In addition to this, he is the sole proprietor of a processing business and a partner in two additional businesses. In a conversation that took place not so long ago over the phone, he stated, “I do everything save from CO2 extractions.”
The processing of cannabis crude oil by means of a glass reactor is, as stated by Beaver, an approach that is preferable. He stated that there was a possibility that the chromatography column might not even need to be utilized in half of the cases. “I put the product through the reactor in order to remove any water-soluble pesticides that might have been present.” Myclobutanil is a common fungicide that is sold under the trade name Eagle 20, and it is one of the pesticides that are utilized, making up 90 percent of those that are water-soluble. Myclobutanil, when lit, transforms into cyanide gas, making the presence of this substance potentially lethal.
Utilizing a Reactor Made of Glass
When employing a reactor, not only is the process sped up, but also the vast majority of the pesticides and other pollutants are eliminated. The distillate that is produced as a result is crystal clear. In addition to this, Beaver noted, “I don’t take a loss as I do in the chromatography column.” He continued, “In the reactor, I’m only conducting a liquid-to-liquid extraction of a water-soluble compound.”
“There are occasions when someone will not flush the chromatography column with a sufficient amount of solvent, and as a result, they will leave product in there. They will incur a loss on it, whereas the water-soluble approach will remove a significant portion of the components that would otherwise bind the THC in the chromatography column. As a result, the flow is much improved. It will be to your detriment if you don’t perform this step before beginning the chromatographic process. How does it work exactly?
“Even if you combine the [cannabis] oil with a solvent, the oil will not dissolve in the water,” the author of the article explained. On the other hand, water-soluble compounds, which are the undesirable components, will precipitate out. Terpenes, some insecticides, and a whole host of other compounds will all precipitate out during this process. My glass reactor has a capacity of one hundred liters. I will add approximately ten liters of solvent, which may range from pentane to hexane depending on the temperature that is present in your room. I will also add approximately five liters of crude cannabis oil. After that, I’ll add roughly 85 liters of water to the mixture.
After that, you give it a chance to settle for approximately a minute as you mix it as quickly as you can during that time. After it has had time to settle, the lowermost layer will be hazy. In most cases, it has a pink or crimson hue. Pink lemonade or fruit punch are both common names for this beverage. If you’re familiar with the term “pink lemonade fraction,” this is precisely what it refers to. You do this while standing in the water. After that, you pour it out of the bottom of the container. On the very top, you will find hexane, which is the solvent that I work with, as well as the oil extracted from the cannabis plant.
When you drain it out of the bottom, you’ll get down to that amount, and as soon as you see it drop down to that (oil/solvent layer), you cap it and fill it back up with water. “When you drain it out of the bottom, you’ll get down to that amount.” You’re going to repeat that somewhere in the range of five to seven times. After then, you will notice that you are not going to be able to draw anything into the water any longer. Depending on the chemical that is present in your solution, you can perform these washes either at a pH that is considered neutral or you can experiment with varying the pH. It’s possible that you’ll need to travel lower or higher in order to extract some insecticides from their containers.
pH – A Critical Factor
“In most cases, we don’t go above a pH of 10, because above that point, THC becomes water soluble. At that moment, the THC can be extracted with water if you want it to. We are going to continue to drain it, and when we are finished, we are going to run it down a chromatography column for the first time.
The warning came from Beaver, who said, “You’re going to want to make sure that you pH test everything. If the pH of this solution is off, you will experience isomerization in your boiling flask when you attempt to distill it because of this. In addition to that, it will cause hue shifts. The colors pink and purple are being achieved in this manner. This is the procedure to follow if you wish to achieve that goal. Simply said, the pH is different. People are constantly saying things along the lines of, “Oh, look at this purple I just made!” In all honesty, they made a mistake, and it’s clear that they have no idea what they’re doing.
If you can bring the pH level back up to 6.9 or 7.2, you will be able to produce wonderfully clear distillate every time. You have the ability to make adjustments thanks to this procedure, and that is what you will need to keep an eye on. A highly expensive pH meter, costing approximately $4,500, is available for purchase. You also have the option of purchasing a large quantity of those small strips and continuously cycling through them.
“Another thing that you absolutely have to have in your work area is a salination station as well as a desalination station. You’re going to be producing a saline solution. In addition to that, you will need the ability to get rid of it. You are going to need something to boil it off with or anything similar to that. I am aware that in the state of California, you are permitted to have a sand pit since, strictly speaking, the sand will suck the salt out of the water. Because you are creating a solution containing salt. At this rate, you will run through hundreds of gallons of water very quickly. I go through literally hundreds of gallons of water every single day. That requires a significant investment of resources.