This White Paper was prepared by AlturaSolutions for client Avmor.
Canada and eleven states in the U.S. have legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes. Avmor is becoming a leader in producing cleaning solutions that help protect these plants. This White Paper is designed to educate cannabis growers and cultivators and present Avmor as a leader in this new industry.
Cannabis is now legal for both recreational and medical use in Canada. Marijuana was approved for medicinal use in July 2001 and is now administered through Health Canada.
Nearly two decades later, in October 2018, Canada took another very big step forward. That’s when the federal Cannabis Act went into effect, making Canada the second country in the world—after Uruguay—to formally legalize cannabis for recreational purposes as well.
This was good news for many Canadians. It was estimated that, as of 2016, half the adult population in Canada had used cannabis at least once in their lives. Now that recreational use of cannabis is legal, the industry has exploded bringing in millions of dollars in profits and tax revenue in the process.
About 15 years ago, the cannabis industry was valued at about C$600 million. However, in just the 12 months since legalization in 2018, it has grown 185 percent, according to Bloomberg News. It is now estimated that sales in the industry will top C$9.2 billion by 2025.
As one can imagine, this has become a significant opportunity for entrepreneurs throughout the country. Over two hundred and twenty licenses are in the process of being issued or in the process of being issued to cannabis manufacturers in Canada, up 67 percent since January 2019. Many more entrepreneurs plan to jump on the cannabis bandwagon in the coming months.
However, these entrepreneurs and businesses entering the cannabis industry should be forewarned: Several regulations have been enacted to control cannabis growing, cultivation, transformation and sales. In addition, the proper cleaning and sanitation of cannabis facilities is of utmost concern for consumer health and product integrity. For instance:
- Under the Cannabis Act and Cannabis Regulations, license holders are permitted to use only those pesticides or similar pest control products that have been approved for use under the cannabis Pest Control Products Act.
- Producers must follow the “Good Production Practices” as outlined in the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), which deal in part with cleaning and sanitation. These Good Production Practices include guidelines that help create sanitation programs to ensure that cannabis growing facilities and storefronts are hygienically clean to help prevent contamination and protect workers and consumers.
However, none of these guidelines provides any specific instruction or direction regarding how to clean and maintain cannabis growing, cultivation, transformation and sales facilities.
For this reason, Avmor, one of Canada’s leading manufacturers of professional cleaning solutions, has decided to play an active role, ensuring this new, growing, and important Canadian industry gets off to a good start.
One of the ways the company plans to do this is by educating growers on ways to keep their facilities clean and safe, preventing the spread of germs and bacteria. This will help protect this budding industry (pun intended) for growers, retailers, investors, and consumers.
Selecting the Right Cleaning Products and Equipment
Cannabis plants are fragile, and environmental conditions can impact their growth and development. If the production area is not kept clean and in a state of microbial control, it can have a negative impact on not only the health of the plant, but also the health of those working in the facility.
Cannabis growers have several types of cleaning products to choose from. To keep their facilities in optimal conditions for cannabis growth or transformation, they need to know which products are safe and effective. So, let’s begin:
Degreasers: The role of a degreaser is to break down oils and grease that may be difficult to remove with traditional cleaning solutions. They can and should be used as needed.
Resin Cleaners: Cannabis resin is a biological fluid produced by the plant. As it makes its way onto surfaces, it hardens, attracting soils that can be very difficult to remove. This can potentially harm the cannabis and the entire growing area. Degreasers can prove effective at removing plant resin from surfaces such as floors and ledges. However, resin can also find its way on to trimming machines, blades, cutting utensils, scissors, and other tools used to process, grow, and cultivate cannabis. In such cases, cleaning solutions specifically designed to break-down and remove resin deposits should be employed because of its efficacy.
Disinfectants: Select only those disinfectants that have a disinfectant identification number (DIN). The DIN is issued by Health Canada and is located on the product label. This eight-digit number verifies that the disinfectant has been evaluated and meets Canada’s specific standards and requirements regarding disinfectants.
Certification: Growers and sellers are urged to use green-certified cleaning solutions. These have a reduced impact on the environment, which will help protect the plant and those working in the facility. Look for products that are double or triple green certified. This means they meet high green-certification standards from major third party organizations. Of particular importance is to ensure products are GreenGuard Gold certified. This independent certification agency puts much greater emphasis on protecting indoor air quality compared to the other certification organizations. It verifies that cleaning solutions have no or very low volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can mar indoor air quality. Protecting indoor air quality is crucial to the health of cannabis plants and workers.
Lint-Free Cleaning Tools: Cleaning cloths, mop heads, and other products used for cleaning growing and retail areas should be lint free. This prevents particulates from being left behind, which can potentially mar the health of the facility.
Wet/Dry Vacuums: These are a necessity. When cannabis growing areas are irrigated, puddles may form on floors and nearby surfaces. Bacteria, viruses, and small parasites can breed in puddles and standing water very quickly, which can negatively impact the health of the building. A wet/dry vacuum will vacuum up this water, removing it from the floor and other surfaces.
Additional Considerations for Cannabis Cleaning Products
We should also mention some general guidelines to follow when it comes to cleaning products:
- As with all chemicals, make sure cleaning products are stored above the floor and on shelves. It is important that all diluted solutions are also well identified with a workplace label.
- In some cases, a color-coding system should be used to help ensure the right product is used for the right reasons. This is especially true if there are language barriers. As an example, an all-purpose cleaner may be color-coded green; a disinfectant might bear a red label. This simplifies chemical selection for cleaning crews.
- Workers, especially when cleaning a cannabis facility, are encouraged to wear complete personal protective equipment and change it after each cleaning. The goal here is to prevent contaminants that may be on “street” clothes from coming in contact with the cannabis plants.
- All cleaning equipment should be kept clean and disinfected. Germs, bacteria, and other pathogens can build up on mops and mop handles, buckets, wet/dry vacuum machines, wands and attachments, and even spray bottles. These must all be cleaned and disinfected or changed on a regular basis.
- Always use dilution control systems. These systems ensure proper dilution of water and chemical. Too much chemical can be just as bad as too little. Further, it is important not to leave chemical residue on surfaces. Be sure to properly rinse your equipment or hard surfaces that are in contact with cannabis. This can attract soils, which can damage the health of the cannabis grow facility.
Cannabis Risk Areas
Cannabis growers and transformers need to know what the risk areas in cannabis facilities are. These areas are considered high risk because they are highly susceptible to contamination and could contribute to an unhealthy environment for the plants and workers. These high–risk areas include the following:
- Growing rooms and green houses
- Packaging areas
- Curing/drying rooms
- Trimming areas
- Hallways and corridors near the growing area
- Change rooms (where workers change from street clothes to work clothes and vice versa)
These areas must be cleaned daily, to remove visible soils, and then disinfected, a critical two-step process. This is where growers and retailers need to use disinfectants that bear a DIN.
Low-risk areas in a cannabis facility include the following:
- Security rooms
- Warehouse areas
- Shipping and receiving areas
- Kitchens and bathrooms
These areas must also be cleaned daily but do not necessarily need to be disinfected. Instead, the use of sanitizers should prove sufficient. When used properly, a disinfectant kills all pathogens listed on the product label. A sanitizer reduces the number of pathogens on a surface to levels considered safe. As with disinfectants, the surface must be cleaned first to remove soils before it can be disinfected. This improves the efficacy of both products.
The cannabis industry in Canada is now one of the fastest-growing industries in the country. Whenever an industry grows this fast, stumbling blocks are expected along the way. The goal of this white paper is to help ensure cleaning and sanitization are not one of those obstacles. Avmor now has dedicated specialists available to help this industry grow, and in so doing, protect the health of consumers using cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes.