Cannabis Contaminants You Need to Know
4 Oct 2022

Cannabis Contaminants You Need to Know

Anjali Singh, MS

As a content and community manager, I leverage my expertise in plant biotechnology, passion for tissue culture, and writing skills to create compelling articles, simplifying intricate scientific concepts, and address your inquiries. As a dedicated science communicator, I strive to spark curiosity and foster a love for science in my audience.

Anjali Singh, MS
Table of Contents


Cannabis is a plant with more than 80 phytocannabinoids or biologically active chemical compounds. Many of these have a plethora of applications in treating many diseases, ranging from cancer, anxiety, depression, Parkinson’s, and other neurological diseases.

A total of 33 states have approved Medicinal Cannabis. However, with the global expansion of the Cannabis market, the safety and quality of the Plant are the next concern for the government. And, that’s why an expert has been created to ensure the cultivation standards and create strict regulatory regulations to control the contaminants of plants that can severely harm consumers’ health.

The panel has assigned specifications necessary to define the Cannabis quality attributes. It includes limits for microbial levels, pesticide residues, mycotoxin, and other metal contaminants based on their toxicological studies.

This article presents you with all the contaminants that pose a serious threat to human health and will cause your crop to be illegal, resulting in great financial losses. Going ahead you will also learn how tissue culture is an effective solution to these contaminants, posing threat to your Cannabis businesses, and meet regulatory measures.

Types of Cannabis Contaminants

Cannabis and derived products are often contaminated by heavy metals, pesticides, chemical solvents, and microbial contaminants. Have a look at what specifically they are and how they have adverse effects on consumers’ health and wellness.

1. Microbial Contaminants

Cannabis is prone to mold, bacterial, and viral infections. While some of the species associated with Cannabis have been found to be beneficial for the plant, many of them act as phytopathogens. Out of these microbial species, some of them act as opportunistic pathogens in humans.

2. Bacterial Contaminants

Bacterial contaminants, that have severe adverse effects on human health, are mainly either rhizosphere-, endorhiza-, or soil-associated microbiome. It includes species of Cellvibrio, Oxalobacteraceae, Actinomycetales, Sphingobacteriales, and Pseudomonas.

Some human pathogens that have been found in Cannabis flowers include Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii, Ralstonia pickettii, Salmonella enterica, and Clostridium botulinum.

The presence of these bacterial species poses a serious threat to Cannabis consumers (in the form of medicines or others). It’s especially risky for patients suffering from immune diseases.

3. Viral Contaminants

Viruses are the second largest cause of crop loss. Cannabis plants can get infected with viral contaminants when grown and incubated with the infected plants or grown using an infected mother plant. However, no such Cannabis viral contaminants are known so far that can affect human health.

The viruses and viroids that commonly infect Cannabis plants include: alfalfa mosaic viruses (AMV), cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), Arabis mosaic virus (ArMV), Lettuce chlorosis virus (LCV), Beet curly Top Virus (BCTV), Cannabis cryptic virus (CCV), and hop latent viroid (HLVd).

The most common symptoms observed during infection of such viruses include yellowing and curling of leaves, twisted stems, stunted plants, necrosis, mosaic patterns, or reduction of quality and yield of plants.

4. Fungal Contaminants

A range of fungal species has been found to infect Cannabis plants and create serious issues in meeting regulatory measures. It includes Penicillium sp. (such as P. commune and P. chrysogenum), Aspergillus sp. (such as A. niger, A. flavus, and A. versicolor), and F. oxysporum.

Not only do these contaminants affect Cannabis quality and yield, but also pose a serious threat to human health if consumed. Most of these species produce toxins that are carcinogenic, neurotoxic, hepatotoxic, or nephrotoxic. It’s especially more concerning for immunocompromised patients.

5. Heavy Metal Contaminants

There have been many reports of Cannabis and Cannabis-derived products found contaminated with a range of heavy metals that negatively affect human health. It includes cadmium, copper, magnesium, lead, mercury, and copper.

Many of these contaminants hyperaccumulate in plant tissues, while some, having low biodegradability, bioaccumulate in the food chain and cause many health issues. Some metals exposed to humans either acutely or chronically lead to a plethora of human diseases, such as neurological disorders and cancers.

Thus, strict Government regulations are imposed on businesses with limits on the concentrations of these metals due to their detrimental effect on human health.

The Use of Tissue Culture in the Production of Medically Fit Cannabis Plants

Tissue culture is considered to be the future of Cannabis propagation. There are many advantages to using tissue culture clones for cultivation over other planting materials. It includes:

  • Scale economies
  • Providing disease-free and true-to-type plants to reduce the risk of producing medical cannabis at GMP-EuGMP levels
  • Genetic improvement through the development and application of various technologies.
  • Several tissue culture methods can be applied to cannabis for research, novel trait development, breeding, and mass production.

Like conventional approaches, tissue culture does not require a large space to maintain the mother stock. Furthermore, it also enables you to store elite Cannabis varieties for use in the long term through synthetic seed technology.

Setting up a tissue culture lab might be more expansive than traditional techniques. However, the advantages the technique offers to growers bring multifold ROI. It prevents your money and effort from going to waste by helping you meet regulatory compliance.

For All Your Cannabis Propagation Challenges, Join The Cannabis Tissue Culture Master Class

Tissue culture is an advanced and efficient technique to get rid of these pathogens and increase your plant quality and yield.

But, it needs some basic knowledge to get started with the technique, and that too with Cannabis!

But, not to worry. We’ve got you covered!

This coming 13th of October we are organizing a “Cannabis Tissue Culture Master Class” for all levels of Cannabis growers—whether a beginner or an expert. The Master Class educates you and provides you with all the resources you need to get started in your journey to produce disease-free Cannabis, meeting all regulatory complaints.

You can join the basic courses, where you will learn more about basic Cannabis tissue culture like media preparation, meristem dissection, and cannabis micropropagation, or even join the expert courses, where we will dive further into pathogen remediation by media amendments, gender screening, long-term storage solutions, procedures, protocols, and solutions to prevent contamination from your lab and increase Cannabis yield!

Additionally, you will get to network with tissue culturists from around the world and will receive a certificate to show you are now the expert!

Thousands of cannabis growers have already joined and booked their tickets to level up their Cannabis propagation business. Don’t stay behind, Book Your Tickets Now!

(Limited seats left and gates to the Master Class are closing soon)

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