By Sophia Ruiz

While much of the wine industry got away from this year’s harvest unscathed, the same could not be said for the outdoor cannabis cultivation industry from San Francisco north. Rain, hail, wind, dense fog and finally 3 phases of monsoon blowback from Japanese storms in early October stole a significant number of trichomes from their mamas on many Pacific NW farms. What wasn’t wrecked, of a potentially record-breaking and market super-saturating outdoor crop, faced imminent and instantaneous, aggressive, widespread mold. Sadly, I learned first-hand of a cumulative thousand plus pounds of cannabis lost to mold this season.

So what to do with all that moldy weed? Most of the moldy grass was unfortunately sorted and the mold “removed” by various post-production processes that allegedly render a safe consumable. So are these extracts actually fit for consumption? We say No! Although science has yet to really weigh in. That said, we have spoken to a number of farmers and scientists alike that confirm that if processed correctly, there should technically be no detectable amounts of mold in the aforementioned processed products. All of those same scientists and farmers were quick to comment on the integrity of the terpene profile of said product, and given the overbearing smell of grey mold (Botrytis Cinerea), it is safe to say that there will be some less-than-tasty concentrates available to unsuspecting buyers this year.

And how are you to know if your extracts came from moldy weed? Truth is you don’t and won’t know. There is simply no way of detecting or tracking this garbage and keeping it off the shelves. And now that Oregon (arguably the mold capital of the world) has done away with mandatory mold testing we seem to be getting even farther from the truth. Bottom line-know your farmer. Trust your farmer and only work with people you know would never poison someone at the expense of a profit margin.

It’s not all bad news for the Pacific NW however. Light-dep folks and those that had the earliest of producing strains may have brought some significant flowers to the table this season, and made a stack of paper doing so. Seasoned growers that selected early-finishing cultivars and/or mold-resistant landrace strains may have weathered the storm this year, but for the most part, the domestic outdoor bud market stayed relatively under-supplied, keeping prices from falling out from underneath themselves this past October as they often do when the outdoor comes rolling in. That’s not to say that prices didn’t dip, but at least however the market is not super-saturated and prices to the point that grow-families are going hungry this year.