Growers love hanging with their buds. A freshly harvested crop of cannabis needs to dry to a perfect consistency. Curing is a vital process for quality, beyond simply removing moisture. A method that can be eliminated on a commercial scale – with microwaved weed.

As crude as rapidly dehydrating flowers in 48 hours with any kind of radiation sounds, could an even more sinister plot be underway? Is it possible to steal cannabinoids with industrial microwave-driven drying machines?

Cannabinoids are expensive,” and producers surely do not want to lose them. However, so many already do by sanitizing their products with gamma irradiation. Bacteria and moulds are certainly stripped away, along with some of the prized terpenes.

Regulated shortcuts

Some producers want to use microwaves for decontamination, rather than gamma rays or electron beams. They are instead forced to use the methods approved by Health Canada.

“…if the research into microwaves being used in cannabis sterilization was presented to Health Canada as a safer alternative to irradiation, I’m sure they would make the change.”

Emblem Cannabis – Nov, 2018

Irradiation rules have drastically shifted since the implementation of edible cannabis regulations. What remains unchanged is producers cannot sell weed that breaches the acceptable CFU limits. So, they must bring the bacteria and mould levels down with irradiation to sell it.

Health Canada requires weed that is too mouldy to be irradiated before sale.

Tech meets LP

The partnerships between Enwave and Aurora or Tilray details microwave dehydration, but never mentions much beyond this plan exclusively. Their own machines dry material opposed to extract it.

Microwaves can, however, be manipulated to replace heat in distillation apparatuses and can ultimately be used to extract material, instead. Concentrate production is not in Enwave’s repertoire, currently, but the technology does exist.

Milestone

Solvents versus microwaves

Thankfully, there should not be any blasted bud on the Canadian market, not to say flowers get tested for solvents before sale or anything.

It is illegal to sell dried cannabis that has had any substance directly added to it, aside permitted pesticides. Tumbling is one of the only ways for a Canadian producer to legally sell you dried cannabis flower that has already been stripped of its essence. This simply knocks trichomes off of cured buds which fall through a screen for later collection. Standard distillation would work as well, just far less efficiently, even with a Kugelrohr.

With edible cannabis and microwaves, they could soon be tumbling weed in giant extraction machines! Cannabis can be decontaminated and cured in the same process. What’s more, a little extract could secretly be pulled out of the material before it’s packaged and sold to customers at regular cost. Extra extract could be produced from these flowers, almost from thin, irradiated air.

Would anyone steal cannabinoids with microwaved weed?

It can eliminate the typical loss that occurs when drying cannabis with any kind of radiation. Sounds great for the producer, they can recollect and profit from something that used to be burned off.

Irradiated product with an intentional depletion of active ingredients really does not sound good for the consumer, though. Would anyone really want to buy weed knowing it was treated so heavily for the sake of profit?

Maturation not microwaves

Live resins are concentrates extracted from freshly cut plants. Grey-market producers argue product definitions. They try to define the difference between resins that have been blasted or squished from trichomes minutes after harvest, as opposed to hours.

One major reason is terpene development. A freshly cut plant has sought after, rich flavour profiles that immediately change in the curing process. Live or finished are both delightful. Many of us are accustomed to a cured profile. These are achieved through careful, moisture and temperature controlled climates with two weeks of utmost patience.

Irradiation cannot produce the same level of intentional terpene and cannabinoid maturity with such hast and disrespect. It will never leave behind the same quality of bud, given the loss of volatile actives, and the different properties between terpene groups.

Microwaved weed will fail to preserve cannabis’ delicate profile. It will instead completely stop and kill any remaining life and development left in the trichomes.

Securing our roots – and stalks

Microwaved weed has always been one of those skeptical shortcuts preferred by a small, misinformed few trying to quickly dry a handful of still damp flowers. Connoisseurs would rather let their buds hang and finish curing in a proper climate, rather than smoke sanitized flowers. We should all go against profits mentality and let patience win – for the patients, cannabis’ very image, and for health and safety

Photo Courtesy of New Cannabis Ventures