Every summer, people from all over the United States travel to their local farmers’ market to stock up on fresh vegetables, freshly baked goods, and delectable confections. Naturally, the majority of people believe that the things made locally are of excellent quality and are organic. But how do they find out about it? The labeling of a product as natural does not necessarily imply the product is in fact natural.
When it comes to supporting a small business, a mom-and-pop shop, or a boho brand, customers have the best of intentions. Do the producers, on the other hand, have the greatest of intentions when it comes to their clients? Many little cannabis growers, in a horrifying display of laissez-faire, are ignoring government regulations in the name of free enterprise. Unfortunately, by doing so, they are not only setting themselves up for failure, but they are also endangering the safety of consumers and, in some cases, the integrity of an entire industry.
An investigation published in the Journal of Rural Studies indicated that many cannabis growers in California were avoiding compliance and were engaged in illicit market activities, according to the findings of a recent study. Many growers attribute the refusal to comply to the high expense of compliance and administrative problems.
The report poses an intriguing question: in the cannabis industry, which comes first: customer safety or corporation profit? We’re sorry, but the answer isn’t as easy as we’d like it to be.
GETTING MONEY FOR CANNABIS
It was compassionate care that was most frequently heard in support of legalization of cannabis when it first began its journey towards legalization. The decriminalization of marijuana and the formation of medical programs provided choices for those who had few other options before these developments. As word spread across the world about a natural herb that had the potential to revolutionize the way people approached health and wellbeing, an entire business sprang up to support it.
While looking back in time and listening to the pioneers, campaigners, and proponents, we can see that no one said, “Let’s legalize cannabis because I want to become wealthy!” At the very least, not exclusively, and certainly not out loud. No, they wanted cannabis to be legalized so that it might be used to assist others who were suffering. As a result, the industry began on a more philanthropic base than it did on a purely commercial one.
State after state, the movement gained momentum, and today, what was once considered a pipe dream is finally becoming a reality. In the rush to cash in on the Green Rush, however, chances for less-than-stellar business practices, both intentional and unintentional, were created, as was the case with the Gold Rush.
PRODUCTS, PESTICIDES, AND TOXINS, OH MY FRIENDS.
Consumers are getting more concerned about what they put into their bodies as time goes on. We’re learning that preservatives, artificial additives, pollutants, and toxins found in everyday products can do more harm than benefit, and that we should avoid them. Consumers, on the other hand, have no idea what they’re eating if there is no regulation.
A new study on sunscreens discovered an alarmingly high number of products that included benzene, a recognized carcinogen that has been linked to leukemia. Pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers have been used in agriculture for decades, and we are acutely aware that the majority of our foods include trace amounts of residue agricultural chemicals due to this practice.
We, on the other hand, do not consume broccoli in large quantities. While slathering carcinogens on our skin or ingesting trace amounts of pesticides is frightening enough, consider the possibility of inhaling them directly into your lungs, which are a delicate and important organ in the human body.
Hemp and cannabis act as natural phytoremediators, absorbing pollutants from its surrounding environment. As a result, in the absence of government control, production standards, and testing regulations, cannabis and hemp crops, as well as the products made from them, can pose serious health risks to consumers. Take, for example, the case of a farmer in Iowa who has been cultivating pesticide-intensive maize and soybeans for decades and now wants to branch out into hemp production. The first several rotations of his hemp crop will almost certainly contain toxins, as the hemp will be working to remediate the contaminated soil in that instance.
Even if the farmer is extremely cautious in their growing operations, pesticide drift may make it impossible for them to achieve success. It is conceivable that their crop will be contaminated if their neighbor, who does not care about compliance, uses Eagle 20 or any other harmful substance.
MISTAKES AND SHORTCUTS IN THE AFTER-HARVEST PROCESSING
Improper production procedures aren’t the only source of toxins found in cannabis-derived products. Hemp and cannabis are both subjected to substantial post-harvest processing, which includes drying, curing, extracting, manufacturing, and packaging, among other things. Each step exposes a new place that could be contaminated with bacteria.
When it comes to drying and curing, mistakes can be made that result in mold and fungus growing on the plant material, which can be harmful to people if consumed. The improper storage of extra, unprocessed organic material in a facility can result in the growth of bacteria and the release of mycotoxins into the surrounding environment.
Processes of Cannabis Extraction: The process of extracting cannabis is based on chemistry, and variables can occur that result in the production of potentially harmful byproducts. Improper procedures may result in the presence of residual solvents. In the worst case scenario, where the processor starts with tainted plant material, the process of extracting the oils concentrates not just the cannabinoids, but also the poisons present.
Complex chemistry methods, which frequently involve the use of caustic chemicals, are required for the production of hemp and cannabis-derived isolates, distillates, and synthetic cannabinoids, among other products. When things are manufactured incorrectly, they can contain a variety of poisons and undiscovered compounds.
Food Production: Edible items carry a number of contamination hazards, including the presence of foodborne microorganisms. Edibles must adhere to all applicable food safety rules, as well as cannabis compliance requirements. It might also be difficult to get precise measurements in kitchens that are not well-equipped. Cannabis-specific food production rules, on the other hand, do not exist. From state to state, cottage food laws impose controls and restrictions on the sale of handcrafted foods, such as cookies, pastries, and sweets, among other things.
Packaging: In the case of cannabis vape cartridges, additives such as propylene glycol (PG) and polyethylene glycol (PEG) are employed to alter the viscosity of the oils. Because of the 2019 Vitamin E Vape Crisis, we learnt that some FDA-approved food additives are not intended to be vaporized and breathed. Additionally, it has been discovered that certain vape cartridges include metal components that, when heated, release carcinogens into the air.
A for-profit business model’s ultimate purpose is always to minimize expenses while increasing revenues, no matter what industry it operates in. Anyone who sells a product or service knows that someone is always looking for ways to make it better, faster, and less expensive. The unpleasant reality is that humans, in their quest to be the greatest, are often tempted to take shortcuts, particularly if they believe that no one is watching. And, in most cases, cutting corners does not benefit the end user in the long run.
PROTECT THE CONSUMER, RESPECT THE CULTURE, AND EXPAND THE ENTREPRENEURSHIP
As the world begins to open its doors to cannabis business, the competition to amass the largest bank account gets under way. Cannabis is a lucrative business, and we can be tempted to let greed get in the way of our morals far too often. It is a losing proposition to take short cuts at the expense of the consumer’s interests.
To claim that cannabis regulations are destroying small businesses is equivalent to claiming that restaurants that are not part of a chain should not be required to adhere to sanitation requirements. In any case, you would never intentionally consume e. coli-contaminated hamburger, no matter who cooked it for you undercooked. Consumers have a right to know what they are eating, and this will only be possible through government regulation, industry standards, and testing.