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Wednesday May 13, 2020

By Andrew Ward


The COVID-19 pandemic has many people acknowledging the long-lingering elephant in the smoke sesh: some of the cannabis community's practices are unsanitary. Much of the cannabis community's manners could, and likely will, be refined to ensure that it continues to practice communal traditions while protecting one another from transmitting any germs or viruses.

One such area is the plant itself. Marijuana is exposed to a range of contaminants, be it the coronavirus or more common elements, like mold, runoff water, pesticides and others. These elements finding their way onto the plant was a concern for a minority of the community prior to COVID-19. Now in the midst of it all, all parts of the supply chain seem to implement their measures to protect themselves and others in the process.

Undoubtedly useful in the moment, these tips could and, in many cases, should remain a practice for customers when picking up – even when the coronavirus concerns eventually slip from our daily lives.

Cleaning Your Delivery Orders

Marijuana delivery is becoming more and more popular, but packages can carry germs and viruses just as the person delivering an item does. As such, it is wise to sterilize any package before it comes into your home, pandemic or not. Now more than ever, it is essential that consumers consider all steps to avoid any possible transmission of the coronavirus or other harmful germs. With the virus able to respectively cling onto cardboard for a day and in the air for up to three hours, taking every possible precaution with each delivery, pot included, is a wise idea to practice proper safety measures.

Some tips recommend leaving packages outside for hours or days at a time. With cannabis, this is especially risky. However, it is worth considering if you can do so without exposing yourself to any legal risk or pesky porch pirates.

Most packages that are in shipment for days pose a low transmission risk. However, cannabis products bagged and repackaged may not fall into that category. As such, consider every step to limiting transmission opportunities. They include asking for a contactless door side or lobby drop-off. Wherever the package is placed, use gloves and a mask to retrieve it.

It is recommended to disinfect your packgages during these times. photo credit

You may want to wipe down the packaging, or replace it with bags of your own, as well. Using Lysol over a sealed plastic bag should help clean the product wrapping without corrupting the plant product inside. Once complete, toss your gloves into a garbage can, not on the ground or anywhere else, and your packaging should be adequately addressed.

Now to Disinfect Your Cannabis Flower

The package is only half the battle, unfortunately. Sterilizing the plant itself is worth consideration. To be fair, this isn't an idea exclusive to COVID-19 circumstances. While most plants come pre-sterilized and screened for contaminants, some unwanted elements still get through. A myriad of issues can lead to pollutants reaching your cannabis, be it cracks in the quality assurance line, a freak occurrence or the rare improper actor in the space. Whatever the case may be, the following methods may reduce the risk of any contamination.

Ultraviolet Light

UV light has been effective in destroying viruses before. While it isn't confirmed with COVID-19, there is belief the field that the same should apply here. As such, some experts believe that using a device, such as a UV wand, can destroy the virus after a few seconds of use. While UV light is the enemy of fresh cannabis, some may feel inclined to run their products under the ultraviolet rays just as they would the package. If it works, the process may be worth degrading the product's freshness just a bit.

Cleaning the Food Prep Way

While not guaranteed to work against the coronavirus, JeffThe420Chef has a practice for cleaning cannabis flower in edible preparation that may help those feeling concerned these days.

There are some methods to try for cleaning flower. photo credit

In this multi-step process, the chef calls for a two- to three-day soaking process, where the flower gets broken apart and steamed into a French press. Once the water is clear, chef calls for the plant to be transferred to a tea strainer, where it is blanched. Next, squeezed of water, the flower is cooked at 240F in foil until completely dry. Now, dry and decarboxylated, the flower works in infusions for edibles and other uses. Keep in mind that the process was not created to sterilize flower from viruses, but may be effective for those hoping to reduce their potential exposure.

Stay Safe Now and Beyond

No measure is guaranteed to limit a person's exposure to COVID-19 or any other germs or virus out there. For now, it is wise that consumers adhere to medical professional recommendations and play it safe. If possible, leave your package out a bit, and use gloves and sanitizer when taking it out of the box.

With hope, we'll look back and have a chuckle at the measures we're putting in place. However, these seemingly extreme measures could help keep us away from contracting the virus or any other contaminants. Be safe and practice the needed steps to protect yourself and others.

Have you been making an effort to sterilize and sanitize your cannabis? If so, what are some of the measures you have taken? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Clay Banks (license)


Andrew Ward Andrew Ward

Andrew Ward is a Brooklyn-based cannabis writer and creative. His work has appeared on Benzinga, High Times, PROHBTD and several other publications and brand blogs. He has covered the cannabis space for over three years, and has written professionally since 2011. His first book, "Cannabis Jobs," was released in October 2019. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn to stay up to date.

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