Irradiation does not affect medicinal cannabis
Gamma-irradiation does not cause significant changes in the composition of medicinal cannabis. A recent study has shown that the most important therapeutically active components THC and CBD are not affected by the radiation. Herbal cannabis products, often used by vulnerable patients, are treated by gamma-irradiation to free them from contamination with potentially harmful microbes. Patients have occasionally expressed their concerns about the effects of irradiation treatment on medicinal cannabis. Some have claimed a change of taste or effect, while others worry about changes in the chemical composition or the quality of their medicine.
The study evaluated the effects of irradiation treatment on four different cannabis varieties covering different chemical compositions. Samples were chemically analysed before and after standard gamma-irradiation treatment. In addition, water content and microscopic appearance of the cannabis flowers was evaluated. The effect of gamma-irradiation was limited to a slight reduction of some terpenes present in the cannabis, but keeping the terpene profile qualitatively the same. No effects on THC or CBD content was observed.
Recommended method of decontamination
Based on the study results gamma-irradiation of herbal cannabis remains the recommended method of decontamination, at least until other more generally accepted methods become available.
How is Bedrocan’s cannabis irradiated?
For twenty years now, medicinal cannabis, which Bedrocan produces in the Netherlands on behalf of the Office of Medicinal Cannabis (OMC), is also irradiated. This process is also called sterilisation. The article How is Bedrocan’s cannabis irradiated? offers an insight into how the irradiation process works.