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Utah in the Weeds Episode #74 – RadSource Technologies

What to Expect in This Episode

Episode 74 of Utah in the Weeds features Dr. Justin Czerniawski and Wesley Spridgeon of RadSource Technologies, a company that can help cannabis growers decontaminate their products prior to testing.

Czerniawksi and host Tim Pickett started with a discussion about the types of contamination that can affect a cannabis grow operation. Unfortunately, an environment built for growing healthy cannabis plants is also conducive to growing mold and other microbial organisms. [03:11]

RadSource Technologies has developed x-ray systems that can be used in a variety of fields, from decontaminating donated blood to mass-sterilizing insects like mosquitoes. [05:01]

They recently started applying their patented x-ray technology in the Medical Cannabis field. The technology is tuned to target the DNA of microbes, effectively causing those microbes to self-destruct, while leaving cannabinoids and the appearance of the cannabis flower intact. Interestingly, the cannabis can be decontaminated this way after it’s been placed in its retail packaging, and there is no need to unseal and reseal the product for processing. [10:06]

Some cannabis consumers have raised concerns about using cannabis with dead microbes still attached to the flower. Cziernawski points out that the same technology is used to decontaminate food and donated blood “with high levels of success.” [15:35]

RadSource Technologies is based in Georgia, but Wesley Spridgeon, an account executive for the company, is a Utah resident. Spridgeon, who is also a Medical Cannabis patient, talked with Tim and Dr. Cziernawski about the current state of cannabis decontamination and testing in Utah. [21:01]

Spridgeon and Dr. Cziernawski talked about the labeling requirements for irradiated products and the common misconceptions about gamma radiation. [36:04]

Tim and Dr. Cziernawski talked about the ways cannabis irradiation might eventually become a possibility for home growers. [43:44]

We wrapped up this episode with a discussion about Spridgeon’s favorite Medical Cannabis strain, the general availability of Medical Cannabis in Utah, and how to get a hold of our guests. [45:49]

Resources in This Episode

Podcast Transcript

Tim Pickett:

Episode 74 coming at you, Utah in the Weeds. This is the podcast about Utah cannabis and cannabis culture. Today, I’m talking to Wesley Spridgeon and Dr. Justin Czerniawski. He is the head of research and development for a company called Rad Source. Rad Source is located in Georgia and they have a low-intensity x-ray technology that they are using to decontaminate cannabis. I’m geeking out in this conversation because it’s about your flower that has grown and has contamination in it that we all know exists, some of this is normal and natural, but remember when we inhale cannabis, we are not filtering it the same way as the gut does. And so that’s why this is important to have good testing on your flower and to not buy flower on the black market because you don’t know where it was grown, you don’t know what chemicals they’re putting on that stuff. If nothing else comes out of this, clean cannabis is really much, much better.

Tim Pickett:

Just know that in Utah, there has been testing done without microbial testing because there’s a global shortage of these pipettes. There’s this global shortage of these pipettes. And if we can’t get the pipettes, we can’t do the test. And so they’ve decided not to do some of the microbial testing. This has nothing to do, commenters, I know, this has nothing to do with any of the growers or processors here in Utah, this is a Department of Agriculture thing. So just know that this is happening when you’re listening to this podcast episode and this conversation about decontaminating that cannabis and those products, maybe this would be a good idea for us, especially if there’s going to be a global shortage and we are not going to test for microbials or some microbials.

Tim Pickett:

Anyway, that was long-winded housekeeping. Make sure you’re subscribed to the podcast on any podcast player that you listen to podcasts on. Again, go to Utahmarijuana.org/podcast. There’s transcripts, and articles, and subscribe to Discover Marijuana on YouTube. I know that’s a lot to remember, but if you want to get ahold of me, you want to be a guest on the show, the requirement is, I guess, go to Discover Marijuana on YouTube, comment on one of those videos, ask away. We look at all of those. Enjoy this conversation with Wesley Spridgeon and Justin Czerniawski from Rad Source. Learn a little bit about cannabis and microbial decontamination today. Here we go.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah. I’m excited about this conversation because I think I’m interested to know if you guys think there’s more microbial contamination in Medical Cannabis than people realize. Is it like one of those things where once you start looking for bedbugs, you start finding them everywhere?

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Yeah. I mean, I think that’s … I hate to say it, but the same environment that grows the best marijuana, grows microbials. So they’re there. I mean, even some of the more sterile customers that we’ve seen have problems having an occasional breakout. And I think one of the things that we care about the most is informing people on public health problems. The thing that we like about our technology is that we’re the best solution in the sense that it gets your microbial counts down so low, you don’t have to worry anymore.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Part of what I think Wes put on his topics of discussion is secret shopper program. I think that one is huge that the states have started implementing that. The basically just random pickings off the shelf and retesting. And oftentimes if you’re just barely below the limits, when your product is going out, it will grow back by the time they come out and do the secret shopper. And so getting that as low as possible without compromising the integrity of your products and all the medicinal qualities of the product has to be paramount. And that’s the nice thing about our technology is that’s what it does.

Tim Pickett:

Where are you guys located?

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

We’re in Buford, Georgia. It’s just north of Atlanta by the largest manmade lake I believe, Lake Lanier.

Tim Pickett:

The largest manmade lake?

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

I don’t know if that’s true anymore, but I think at one time it was. Yeah, we have a large manmade lake here called Lake Lanier and we’re right by that.

Tim Pickett:

Okay. So talk to me about Rad Source Technologies. What is Rad Source Technologies? What do you guys do?

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Sure. The company started in ‘97. The goal of the company and the founder, Randy Kirk, he wanted to find a viable alternative to radioactive isotopes. With all the terrorism and stuff in the world, radioactive isotopes are kind of no longer becoming a viable option for decontamination and remediation with photons specifically. They create what people refer to as gamma rays. It’s just a very high-energy photon. And so what he found was that you could get similar effects with x-ray. So just a little bit lower in energy on the spectrum, similar mechanism of action, but unlike a radioactive isotope, you can turn it on and off like a light bulb. So we like to pride ourselves on being a very high-power light bulb.

Tim Pickett:

Like a light bulb that will shine through stuff?

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Yeah, right. So there’s two kinds of things going on. So your photons are going in and they’re hitting the stuff that you don’t want. We started off in blood. So we’re actually a medical device company for our blood irradiator, and we took those same principles and move them into different verticals. So we’ve got blood where we take the white blood cells. So I can’t just donate blood and give it to you, I have to get rid of the white blood cells because my white blood cells will look like an infection to your body. So we actually just destroy the white blood cells, but preserve the red blood cells. And that allows people with immunocompromised systems to get blood transplants without having to worry about graft versus host disease. So very awesome industry to start out in.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

We’ve also been involved in small animal radiation and cancer research. That’s one of our other larger verticals. Basically, any major cancer facility, cancer research facility has one of our units. We do sterile insect technique. That is where you take the male insects, you sexually sterilize it, release it back into the population, and then it prevents pest populations from getting too out of hand and destroying stuff.

Tim Pickett:

This is like what they’ve done with mosquitoes.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Exactly. So we’re actually working with a group … We have an entomologist on staff who is working with a group working on that for Zika and yellow fever and stuff like that, malaria, things like that. So mosquito control is definitely one. Screw-worm is one we’ve done in the past. I think we do some moths as well, some pest moth control. We also do things like cell research. The coolest application I’ve heard for this one is there’s a group that we work with, they take a gene sequence out and they edit it and they put it back into patients and cure things like color blindness. So yeah, just like really cool stuff that people do with our machines.

Tim Pickett:

[inaudible 00:08:03]

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Yeah. And some of the newer things that we got into was cannabis. Specifically, it started with medicinal cannabis. The reason we got into that market was because similar technology has been used … This high-energy photon technology has been used in the Netherlands and some other countries that have had legal cannabis for a while. They just use these large gamma facilities. We thought, well, we can do the same thing that these gamma rays do, but we don’t have to have the radioactivity. That’s actually the most important part of our technology is we can directly replace these radioactive isotopes and people like the FBI love us.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

There’s also all these programs that are government-sponsored, especially in the blood side that a lot of our company and other x-ray companies participate in where the government will actually help research institutes and blood institutes replace their units, their gamma units. They’ll take their isotope sources out where they’ve got to have the military come help and take them out and they replaced them with our unit and all of a sudden all that security goes away. All you need to do is just register the x-ray tube as if it’s a dental x-ray. Very similar to what you do in the dentist. And that’s it. You just [crosstalk 00:09:26].

Tim Pickett:

Because you can’t use your technology to build a bomb.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Correct.

Tim Pickett:

[inaudible 00:09:31].

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Right, nobody can steal our technology and spread it over half a block and kill millions of people. Yeah, that’s not just possible.

Tim Pickett:

That’s cool.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Yeah. So that’s the philosophy behind Rad Source and that’s why it was started. That’s why our company exists. We’ve been very successful at it. We have the pioneering technology in x-ray. It really hasn’t changed much since it was invented until our company came along. So we have a patented x-ray tube that we protect very vigorously. And yeah, it’s been great, awesome technology.

Tim Pickett:

With cannabis, how are you using that technology to help? Essentially, you’re reducing bugs on the plant.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Yeah, the microbes specifically. What we do is we add things like Aspergillus, Fusarium, things like that, powdery mildew. Basically, the mechanism of action to keep it simple is you have these high-energy photons that go in and they interact with the DNA of the pathogen. And DNA is so critical to these single celled organisms, once it’s destroyed, they basically self-destruct. And so we have created this technology where the wavelength is fine-tuned enough to leave all the stuff you care about, the cannabinoids, the Terpenes, the look, the actual physical look of the product, but specifically targets the microbes themselves.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Now, I will say, as a whole, remediation techniques because this is usually done on dry flower, there is no mechanical action to our product. And that’s actually true of all remediation techniques. So if anybody tries to tell you, “Oh, we can actually physically remove things from the plant.” That’s not true. And actually one of the benefits of our technology is the way it looks going in is the way it looks coming out. So if you have beautiful product that you’ve spent all this time trying to perfect, when it goes in, it will come out looking the exact same with all the wonderful colors, the smells. All that stuff is preserved because it’s not touched.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

There’s no tumbling action. There’s no motion to our mechanism as well. The photons are actually able to penetrate through packaging. And so once you have your product and its packaged, you can just put it in the machine, run it and take it out. It doesn’t have to be tumbled, it doesn’t have to be opened and then resealed. It’s all done just by the fact that the photons are so small, they can penetrate through pretty much everything and then hit the product or hit what you don’t want in your product.

Tim Pickett:

I’m thinking about cannabis flower, but you’re talking about all types of products really. But primarily, we’re dealing with cannabis flower because you grow it, you test it, ah, crap! It’s got some microbial contamination. We’re either going to have to throw it out or we’re going to have to do something else with it, but we want to use it. Is that when you guys come in?

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Yeah. So our goal is to preserve the most valuable part of the grow, which is the flower, the whole flower. So exactly, you go through your process, you harvest, you dry. Post-harvest, you send it off to a lab, you find that your CFU count, your colony-forming unit count is above whatever your state threshold is. Typical state threshold’s around 10,000 CFU. And you say, “Oh no.” In some states, the regulations are so tough. If you fail one time, you have to immediately send your product to extraction, which means you’re getting pennies on the dollar. So what we recommend is to run your products through a remediation device like our photon unit, and then you don’t even have to worry about it. I think we have, and Wes can speak to this, we have numerous case studies that show essentially a 99.9% passing. I don’t even know. And we’d have to check if our marketing team can confirm this, but I think we’re at 99.99 now.

Tim Pickett:

So then you go through this process, you go to track all these people and you say, “Hey, before you even send your flower for testing, why don’t you run it through our system? Blast it. And then you can essentially guarantee yourself passing.”

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Yeah. And actually what’s really nice about our products and a disadvantage of the larger gamma systems that have been in place is we’re actually fine-tuning it to your specific product. There’s no need to just do this one-size-fits-all blast. It’s actually a fine-tuned exposure that your product sees. Essentially, what you can do is run a few tests and say, “Hey, when do I get down to the microbial level that to me is acceptable?” And we’ve seen microbial levels as low as the machine reading zero, non-detectable. Basically, so low that it’s below the threshold that the actual testing unit can register.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

That’s actually the most important part that we think our technology brings to the table because you can get to those levels without compromising any of the product’s integrity. What we’ve seen is that any decrease is not only within the margin of error, but oftentimes is contributed to just the natural outgassing of the product itself. There’s very little contribution from acceleration, from the actual process, because we’re a cold process. There’s no heat, there’s no chemicals, nothing. It’s just the photons taking their energy and distributing it into the pathogen. Very nice. And now, we actually have, while we primarily focus on the products, we actually have had customers who use it on extraction as well. There was a customer with a salmonella outbreak who uses our units to clear their oils of salmonella.

Tim Pickett:

Okay. Let me back up here. Let me make sense of this. If I’m blasting it and I’m tailoring that energy that’s hitting my flower or my oil or my product, and it is destroying the DNA and therefore, destroying the life that exists in that fungus, the microbial, the pathogen as you call it, right? And we’re leaving a little bit of residue. We’re the building blocks behind. Is there any danger in leaving that stuff behind?

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Good question. There is a lot of research and debate on this topic in particular. It’s actually really not clear as to what people agree or disagree on. We have had people, concerned customers and concerned consumers, especially at shows, come up to all the remediation booths, whether you’re talking our technology or competitor technologies and ask the same question. Because like I mentioned, there’s no mechanical removal of anything, right?

Tim Pickett:

Right.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

So essentially, what you’re kind of leaving behind is like the carcass of whatever this is. Some people have claimed that they have sensitivity to it, which we completely understand. And some people have claimed there is no effect and they don’t feel anything. It’s a very heated topic, very heated debates. One thing that we have going for a remediation as a whole is that, especially x-ray and photon technologies, is that it’s used in food, it’s used in blood, and it’s used in all of these other industries where there is a much higher risk and there’s also consumption. You can trust the technology that is used in the medical field for blood. If people are using this technology on blood and then that blood is then being put in, especially immunocompromised patients with high levels of success, so much so that now they are moving all blood essentially to this exposed technology.

Tim Pickett:

Well, I worked in trauma for years, in GI surgery for years. I mean, we’d call for blood and it would be a long time for the testing and all of these things. And if I didn’t have the right type of blood and I didn’t have a cross-match unit of blood, I mean, we were in trouble. If we had access to a process that would make it a little safer for the patient, I mean, there’s no question, right?

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Right.

Tim Pickett:

And at that point, although I would say in a life or death situation, you’re going to make decisions in medicine where you’re going to choose a little bit of risk in order to protect the patient’s life and you’re going to deal with the consequences later. I agree with you that using this process on blood does make it seem like it is something that is safe for consumption.

Tim Pickett:

When we talk about it on food, I’ll push back a little bit and say, “Well, the acidity of the stomach is so … It’s so acidic.” And we put, I mean, shoot, you could eat, I mean, kids eat dirt, right? They play in the gutter and then they lick their fingers and most of them survive. That’s an environment that’s going to protect themselves on their own. Inhaling flower is to me probably less risky than treating the blood product. And so in that case, you’re leaving over a little bit of byproduct, but this is microscopic. This is stuff that’s in the environment anyway likely, right? These building blocks of these things are in the environment everywhere.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Yeah. Cells die every day and they’re floating around in the air. So it’s really no different than what you’re breathing every day. And what’s really nice about some of the studies we’ve done is we create no new products that show up on things like chromatograms. So we can run a chromatogram on the product prior to treatment and after treatment and you see no new added peaks. So that means that, you know …

Tim Pickett:

You’ve hit the nail.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

… at least in terms of the sensitivity of the machine, there’s nothing new being contributed to the product.

Tim Pickett:

And now you bring up this, you know, when we’re talking about semi synthetics in cannabis, and we’re talking about processing CBD into Delta-8 and Delta-9 and leftover isomers, we could go down this whole rabbit hole of …

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Absolutely.

Tim Pickett:

… ingesting all these products that people are pissed about and-

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Even as simple as putting a terpenes back into products because, for instance, some of our competitors technologies wipe out all the terpene smell. So they have to artificially dope it back in order to get it to smell like anything.

Tim Pickett:

So they’re essentially spraying the flower with something. And I’ve heard a lot about this.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Yeah.

Tim Pickett:

Sometimes they’re adding THC to this stuff, right? They’re essentially making moon rocks.

Wesley Spridgeon:

Yeah. I’ve heard quite a few cultivators. Can you guys hear me a little bit better?

Tim Pickett:

Wes, you’re on, you’re on. So Wesley Spridgeon. And you Wes, this is perfect timing to bring you into the conversation and we’ll just edit that trashcan sound out from before.

Wesley Spridgeon:

Perfect.

Tim Pickett:

Perfect.

Wesley Spridgeon:

Yeah.

Tim Pickett:

So tell us what you do specifically, Wes, because you’re located in Utah and if it’s okay for me to say, you’re a Utah Medical Cannabis patient.

Wesley Spridgeon:

That is correct, yes. And I’m proud of that fact. To be quite honest, I’m proud to be part of the community where through the hoops that had to be jumped through, it’s now provided as a viable option for patients. And for me, I have no problem whatsoever advocating and also admitting that I am a patient because of the fact that, I mean, people, they glorify and glamorize benzos and other type of medication all day long. You know, so if you’re having a hard time on a flight, pop in Ambien and it’s okay. And so for me, I want to take this opportunity in this society to be able to actually advocate for the medicine that helps us that isn’t quite to that level. So I have no problem saying that, so I appreciate you bringing that up.

Tim Pickett:

In the Utah market, are you working here with Utah growers or are you mostly out of state?

Wesley Spridgeon:

Both. I live here in Utah and so I do work with the local Utah market, obviously, with only eight cultivation licenses. It’s a little bit less quantity of individuals to work with compared to Oklahoma with 6,000 right out of the gate. However, I am working right now to basically perpetuate this education for what we do and also what it can contribute to the patients because there are a lot of other markets that are quite frankly taking this a lot more seriously, and it has created different business models and also just different opportunities for the patients to have a little bit more transparency with the medicine they’re receiving.

Tim Pickett:

Talk about that. Why would you say Utah is not necessarily taking this as serious as they should?

Wesley Spridgeon:

I don’t want to sit here and blame Utah. I think that Utah is taking a very reserved approach, you know, looking at other states. And I can appreciate that definitely because we’ve seen what happens in some of the states like Washington, or Oregon, or the Wild West. So many efforts are put forth to cultivate and then they had to retract back on all the regulations because nobody could pass the testing. That just hinders the medical community, any true patient. That’s not a good move for the patients. Great for recreational, not great for medical. And so what we’re trying to do is basically I think Utah, I don’t think that they are doing anything wrong, per se. I just think they’re just so slow to implement some of the more stringent protocols that other states have done. And with that being said, I think that there’s a couple of things. Obviously, you’re aware that they don’t have requirements for terpene listings quite yet here in Utah.

Tim Pickett:

Working on that a little bit in the background with a couple of boards and medical advisory panels and things, but there’s no requirement in Utah right now for terpene testing or terpene labeling of any products.

Wesley Spridgeon:

Correct. I think that’s a huge detriment to the patient society, to the actual medical community. Because that’s, as we all know, that’s where the medicine truly derives. And so I feel like if we can really start targeting some of those changes and the way that the state requires testing, not only just for the terpene, but also for microbial. We’re currently using a model that’s based off of the federal pharmacopoeia standards. I can understand why you would think, okay, the federal standards should be bolstered enough, but let’s be honest, the federal pharmacopoeia, that industry is slightly different than cannabis in the way that you produce it and consume it.

Wesley Spridgeon:

And so I feel like when we have regulations for other earth-grown products, you know, with our teas and spices and things of that nature, not from a federal standpoint, obviously with the FDA, we can’t do that currently because of the state of cannabis, but it’s a little silly to implement a federal regulation on something that can’t be federally regulated, you know, using that guideline. It would make more sense to take the states that have bolstered that regulation and had implemented a little bit more of a strict guideline just because again, when we come down to it at the end of the day, it’s the patients that are impacted by this. Obviously, the businesses can be impacted by what they are allowed to test and sell based on their failure rates, which is another thing we can get into. But my biggest topic here is the fact that I want patients to have healthy product.

Tim Pickett:

Well, what is the federal guideline? Is that 10,000 … Justin was talking about what is the level that’s appropriately allowed. Is it a level? What does Utah use?

Wesley Spridgeon:

Based off of the federal statute that Utah uses, it is 10,000 and then it is the absence of E. coli and salmonella, but they also break it down into three categories. So they break it down into the actual consumable flower product, the concentrates, and then topicals. So for the subdermal patches, things of that nature or transdermal patches, excuse me, those fall under a different guideline under the pharmacology regulations. As far as I know, this isn’t necessarily unheard of in the industry. A lot of states actually started with that because it’s a good guideline to work with. However, it’s the states that have done a little bit more testing.

Wesley Spridgeon:

For example, we have a couple of states where they have actually had individuals go through with a secret shopper program to really hold the accountability. Because as we all know, business is business and testing labs are our business. And so at the end of the day, there can be issues with the bureaucracy of testing labs and with different growers behind the scenes. There’s a company called the Errl Cup. They do an actual cup in Arizona where they award brands and dispensaries for having quality medicinal products for the patients.

Wesley Spridgeon:

What they do is they go into the markets and they buy products and some companies will willingly submit this product to them for testing and they’ll test it well after it was originally tested to make sure that nothing has grown while it’s been sitting on the shelf. And also to make sure that for whatever reason, if the testing results were skewed by anybody, like you mentioned, the little moon rock situation. I’ve had cultivators tell me, “Yeah, we have people that will take a bag and before they grab a couple of grams to test, they’ll just dump a bunch of kief in it and shake it up.” And now you have completely altered results for every part of the spectrum. If that’s being done in the medical community, whether or not that happens to recreational, that’s a different argument, but for medical, that’s a big problem.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah. That seems like patients … I mean, for my patients, I want them to go down and I want them to get the cleanest product possible that’s tested. And if they’re going to use flower, because we’re kind of on this and they’re going to inhale something into the lung tissue and directly into the bloodstream, this is a big deal. When I work in the emergency department and we order these medications that are inhaled that way and atomized, I mean, we expect pure medication. I would never even consider that in the hospital I would give or order a contaminated product even to the level of whatever that 10,000 units are. Like they’re zero, right?

Wesley Spridgeon:

Zero.

Tim Pickett:

I want albuterol with zero contamination. I want a nebulized medication with zero contamination. So as close as I can get to that, understanding that this is a grown product and that there might be … I guess, I mean, do we allow any? Justin, do you think you should allow any contamination at all? Any of this? Is there a level that you think is safe?

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Yeah. That’s why we’re such obviously big advocates of this technology is it’s the only technology that’s going to get you to those near zero levels, too few to detect levels without altering the product. I mean, there are no other processes, remediation processes that are going to do that. And of course, going back to your statement about people with sensitivities or people’s sensitivities, what’s left over, that kind of thing. Nobody ever advocates for growing dirty product. And this isn’t an excuse to grow dirty product. We never see it that way. What we do is we say, look, we understand that this is, like you said, Tim, a natural product that grows and is oftentimes outside or even in your super fancy, bazillion dollar, clean room grow house stuff happens. Right. But that shouldn’t punish a company. We don’t advocate for you to grow dirty stuff. We just say, Hey, we’re the answer. If you can’t get it to the levels that you need to.

Tim Pickett:

Okay. Totally understand that. And I was going to ask if you advocate for pre-treating all this product, but apparently I would … I mean, I would say if I was working for you, I would advocate for pre-treating everything, might as well.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Well, we see it as an insurance policy, honestly. We really do. I mean, especially in states where the punishment is much greater than a lot of states. Some states you get a couple of tries to do your testing, but there are a few states where it’s one strike and you have to send your product to extraction. And obviously those states, there’s a lot more risk for them. However, we get a lot of feedback, even from testing labs that say, “You make our job easier because we know companies that use your product will pass their tests. No questions asked.”

Tim Pickett:

You can’t set up this process in one state and then ship all your product to that state and then treat it and then ship it back now, can you? You’ve got to have this-

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Well, I’m pretty sure the federal government would have something to say about shipping drugs across lines. We’ll see, but …

Tim Pickett:

But you’ve got to set this up in every … Is there a scalability issue for you guys? Like, is this really expensive or do each of the growers set up their own individual … Like, how do the logistics work if I’m a grower and I want to use the technology?

Wesley Spridgeon:

That’s a great question. And honestly, one of the beautiful aspects of our technology, because it was designed to be vertically integrated into the business, it’s created two different business models. You have the vertically integrated company, whether they’re a craft business that just buys a very small version of our machine to process just their own product. Or if you have a bigger company, like a multi-state operator, which we work with quite a few, and then they can buy eight machines and throw them in them warehouse and process for their community. It just depends on the area. Some states don’t allow you to transport. But realistically, it’s worked in favor in both directions for our company because we started out as just a single, vertically integrated gamma and x-ray device manufacturer to begin with. And so it works very well that we have different sizes available for individuals for whatever their needs are.

Tim Pickett:

Are there companies that are doing better than others?

Wesley Spridgeon:

I mean, I believe that there are. I personally believe that Utah, whether or not a company is successful currently or not, is not directly correlating to their failure rates of microbials. I’m sure they’re witnessing that. That’s not what it is right now. That will change though. As you are probably already aware, you’re familiar with some of the cultivators here. They have some outdoor crops that are actually going to becoming viable very soon and what we see in every state, I’m not exaggerating here, on every state that we operate, any outdoor crop will fail. And it’s not to say anything bad about the grower at all. It’s just what it is. It’s just exposed to the elements. And so it’s inherent with it, unfortunately. And that’s another aspect of the business that this technology provides. Because if a business is looking at it from a patient perspective, of course, yes, using our technology is going to provide that product and it’s going to keep it healthy and something that they can truly be proud to provide to their patient.

Wesley Spridgeon:

But if it’s just business and they’re talking about money, the other factor is this, you have cultivators right now that are about to have literally hundreds of pounds of cannabis ready for wholesale and process. And what we have seen in every state that we operate is that there comes a point in time where when the regulations all of a sudden are highlighted for the company when they fail a test, they now have X amount of product that they can’t do anything with. And when I’ve been with cultivators that are sitting on 10,000 pounds of products that they can’t sell, they can’t do anything with, it is a major issue for their business, for their bottom line, aside from any of the patient aspects.

Wesley Spridgeon:

Now, if they have an option to remediate something to where they can still pass that testing, and it’s not by cheating, it’s actually eliminating what we’re trying to do so that the end product is still a viable product to the patient, that’s what we’re trying to advocate for. And here in Utah, I definitely see that coming up soon because of what’s going on. I definitely believe that the culture here in Utah, people, they really are passionate about what they do. And I don’t think there’s a single company that I’ve met personally that seems to be just completely after the money and trying to cut corners. So I definitely have to give them credit for that. I really want to make sure that’s known.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah, I would agree with that. I think that there isn’t any companies in Utah who got licenses who are just out for the money. Of course, they all want to make money.

Wesley Spridgeon:

Of course.

Tim Pickett:

That fuels the fire so that we can expand and even grow better products and do better things, but you’re absolutely right. I mean, I know quite a few companies right now are sitting on the last bit of their harvest, just about ready to process that and to go send it for testing. And it makes complete sense this will come out, this podcast will release and these guys will have flower in the testing facility with the Department of Agriculture and it’s, like you say, it’ll probably fail if they don’t do anything about it first.

Wesley Spridgeon:

Yeah. And it’s unfortunate. And I don’t wish that upon anybody. By no means I wish that. It’s just what, what we see. I mean, it’s very, very common, especially with the new states because it’s all economy of scale. Once you scale up, that’s what happens. And that’s where Utah is right now. The cultivators are trying to reach that 100,000 square foot each so that we can add more cultivation licenses, but that will come with other hurdles and headaches. It’s something that they’ll have to keep in mind.

Tim Pickett:

Is there something that goes on the packaging when you guys treat the product or when you guys are involved that says, “Hey, this is … ” Is there any labeling? I guess my question should be, is there any labeling for microbial testing or like microbial levels?

Wesley Spridgeon:

[crosstalk 00:36:21]

Tim Pickett:

Not for cannabis at all?

Wesley Spridgeon:

Not for cannabis, yeah, not that I’m aware of, unless Justin knows of another state that’s implemented that. There’s Radura labels that are put on meats and other agricultural products that go in a radiation process, but they haven’t implemented that as a federal guideline.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

And also gamma is different. A lot of the studies have been done with gamma that are one size fits all exposures. They don’t tune it. There are concerns of radiolytic products being formed that has nothing to do with the technique that we do. You know, we have plenty of studies that [crosstalk 00:36:57].

Tim Pickett:

So what’s on the milk and the meat, this is different?

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Yeah. Well, the technology itself, the principle, the technology, the science and technology in terms of effectiveness is the same. But what these gamma facilities do is they don’t … Because they can’t turn off or tune their product, they just run everything at the exact same way. So you might see a weird effect if you run a pound of meat or 10 pounds of meat through the product versus flowers. However, the flowers might need more levels of exposure so they don’t tune it to the meat, they tune it to the … And all that stuff too is also being studied. The FDA has also come out, especially when they release their regulations on drugs and has said, “Hey, you guys, you know, we freaked out when we wrote these original regulations way back in like the ‘60s.” And now, and even in drugs and spices, there’s no labeling requirements that the FDA even requires.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

And cannabis, even though there are medicinal purposes, I mean, medicine is a drug, and so those guidelines would still hold true. And if anything, a food additive or a spice like cannabis in something, a brownie or a cookie or some sort of good would be an additive, it falls under the same regulatory category. I know the FDA has been revisiting and has even come out and said, “Hey, you know, we kind of fell prey to a lot of misconceptions about radiation as a whole, but x-ray is new.” And the technology in x-ray is so new, while you can apply the principles to it, the studies have to be done specifically for different products. And actually we’re working with a lot of what we call champions to try to get those things and those, especially the misconceptions, that’s the biggest problem, misconceptions.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Everybody thinks radioactivity, gamma rays, the Hulk. That is not what this product is. This is an x-ray. It’s a low energy x-ray people. I understand people have weird feelings sometimes about going to the dentist and getting their teeth drilled, but I very, very much doubt that if you have a broken arm or if you get your mouth x-ray, you walk out of there feeling like you’re going to turn into the Hulk. So very similar type of technology to that. People try to take gamma misconceptions and apply them to x-ray. Those are just not valid comparisons.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah. I think that’s going to be the biggest thing that comes out of our discussion is this question that we essentially keep answering in different ways, and that is that safety, right?

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Right.

Tim Pickett:

I’m not going to turn green by using the cannabis that’s been treated, right? We’re not going to grow a third arm.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

No.

Tim Pickett:

It’s fine.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

The proof is in the charts, right? Because you’re testing, that comes back, and Wes has tons of tests across now, numerous states that show, we can get down to zero to non-detectable without altering the product. The chromatograms that show no new products formed. This is the safest method because not only are you getting your microbial levels down to the absolute lowest, you’re maintaining and maximizing the medicinal properties of the flower itself.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah. That I think is what’s important is you have to, you have to remediate the flower. I mean, you cannot safely inhale these microbials, these funguses. We can all agree that’s bad. And if there’s a safe way to remove that, but keep my flower the same as it is, man, we should make this just required.

Wesley Spridgeon:

I mean, obviously, here at Rad Source, that’s our thought process. We have a lot of customers and a lot of labs and other states that they feel the same way. We have a lot of champions for us that we never talk to or ask for just because they believe in the same thing. And with Utah, it’s what you just mentioned about the inhaling of it. That’s something that I am truly concerned about because, as you know, here in the State of Utah, there is no flower to flame allowed, so you’re not allowed to actually smoke it. And one of the arguments has been that if there’s any mold on it had to burn-off, right?

Wesley Spridgeon:

Well, anybody here in Utah, that’s not happening. If you’re putting that in a vaporizer, it’s at a much lower temperature to decarb it to create that vapor than it is a flame. And we don’t know what the effects of that are. That’s an area of research that hasn’t even been done yet to my knowledge and that’s why other states are testing for emissions. They’re testing on vape cartridges and on any infused products. So our customers, they’ll take their infused pre-rolls and things like that and they’ll just put those straight into the machine. So that way, everything is taken care of, regardless if it was in their flower, in the paper that they rolled the joint with, or in the extract itself. All of it will be handled and that there is no detriment to the product. So it really is when it comes to Utah specifically, I really don’t know what it’s going to be like because those inhalants are going to be an issue if there’s any contaminants.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah. You bring up a really interesting point about the no flame law because we’ve all been advocating for the no flame because it is “safer.” But I guess you don’t really know if the flame is maybe sterilizing some of those microbials out, right?

Wesley Spridgeon:

It’s the old school mentality.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah, right. Yeah, just use a lighter, burn it.

Wesley Spridgeon:

Yeah.

Tim Pickett:

That’ll sterilize it. And maybe there’s something to that. I think this other thing we talked about, this secret shopper thing, that’s a really great idea. I would love to have somebody go test, go after the fact, go buy everything once, go test it. See what’s actually in there 30 days after it hit the shelf. See what all the levels are, what the terpenes are, what does this stuff look like, what’s growing and then make some regulations, then adjust the rules based on what is reality, not just what you thought would have been reality.

Wesley Spridgeon:

Exactly. I understand that it takes a market sometimes to figure that out. It’s very, very young still here in Utah, but the program that I mentioned to you and I can absolutely send you more information. The founder, Jim Morrison, he’s a phenomenal individual and what they do with that secret shopping program, it changed the whole culture. It wasn’t just holding the dispensaries accountable. It created a level of self-accountability where now people are providing their own product because now they have a whole event for it. Everybody gets together, they have an award ceremony. There’s people that win awards and things. At the end of the day, that was good for business and good for the patients because the patients are truly getting the best quality they can get. And so it’s definitely a good wave that’s kind of coming across to create that accountability. And I’m happy to be part of it.

Tim Pickett:

Do you guys ever see a time when there’s going to be something personal size where we can treat it? Because in Utah, you can’t grow your own. But this idea of what’s on, what bugs, what contamination, what’s in the soil, all of these things, this is one of the big reasons why Utah did not allow home grow in the beginning. And I think a lot of states are looking at that like, “Look, we’re going to inhale this stuff.” It’s not like eating a tomato out of your garden where there’s that acidic environment where we’re used to processing all of these things out and filtering things. The lungs don’t filter in that same way. Have you thought about what’s next for home grow and this personal application, or is that down the road?

Wesley Spridgeon:

Justin, I’ll let you speak to the technology there.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Well, quite frankly, as these companies legalize, or as these states legalize more and more, and the market kind of drives costs, especially down to affordability, what we’ve seen is everything ends up starting in medical, but then rolls into recreational. Because why would you only want to be smoking safe product or consuming, safe product on the medicinal side? Why not roll that into recreational? And we have seen that. In Colorado, I believe that’s true. Michigan, I believe that’s true. The Northeast and the states that are legal there in New York, Boston, those areas, that’s true. Because again, the technology is there. The insurance policy is there. Why even risk it? Why put yourself in a position where you can be susceptible to secret shopper? Why give yourself a chance to inhale something that’s dangerous?

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Do we come out with a technology that a customer can buy and put in their home? I don’t know, maybe, it might be in our docket, but I think the most important part is the consumer and especially the medical consumer needs to know that what they’re consuming is safe and they should be concerned about that, especially when you’re in an immunocompromised state. There’s no question that a customer should know what they’re putting in their body.

Tim Pickett:

Wes, last question before we talk about how to get ahold of you guys. Do you have some favorite? Do you have a favorite product in Utah? A favorite flower?

Wesley Spridgeon:

You know, actually, I do. I’m glad you asked about that. It’s something I’ve been talking to some people recently. I feel bad to promote any particular company so I won’t say the cultivator’s name, but anybody who knows they’ll know that the strain, my favorite strain is tart pop.

Tim Pickett:

Tart pop.

Wesley Spridgeon:

Tart pop, yes.

Tim Pickett:

Is it pretty consistently available?

Wesley Spridgeon:

Yes, it is actually. It has been pretty consistently available lately.

Tim Pickett:

Good.

Wesley Spridgeon:

But I will say that’s one thing from a patient perspective in Utah. I mean, it is frustrating. It is very frustrating with the availability, and I can understand why there’s so much work being done in the background to try to expand that. So I appreciate that big time.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah. Well, how do people connect with you? Wes, I’m guessing you’re the guy that if anybody wants to connect with, but we’ll let the physicist go do his physics things, although I’m sure if somebody has questions, you guys would answer them, right? Is there someplace people can go for more information on this topic particularly? Do you guys have a way for people to reach out to you?

Wesley Spridgeon:

Yes, absolutely. As far as Justin’s communication, I’ll let him speak to that. But for the company, obviously, radsource.com. You can just Google us even, just Rad Source Technologies. And there’s all sorts of information out there. As far as directly connecting to me, I am local. So I am available. I have a 385 number. I wasn’t cool enough to get an 801 number, but I can send you that information that you can pass along. I don’t know if I should say it out loud over the podcast.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah, we can post it.

Wesley Spridgeon:

Okay. Yeah. If we could post it, I’ll give you that information. And yeah, just my name wspridgeon@radsource.com.

Tim Pickett:

Justin, any favorite articles or ways people can connect with your work?

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

So we have done a few podcasts and talks at MJBiz and some other places. Most of that stuff’s available on YouTube. Wes is your good point man. He’s got all the resources and got all the information and set anything up if you want to talk about science with me. I’m the science guy, he’s the sales guy. I’m the geeky stuff, he’s the market stuff. So if you want to talk about the science, hit up Wes. We’ll set something up and we’ll talk science all day.

Tim Pickett:

That’s awesome. Thanks guys for coming out. For everybody, you can look for us on utahmarijuana.org/podcast. You can download Utah in the Weeds at any podcast application that you can subscribe to podcasts on. Reach out to me, Tim Pickett at utahmarijuana.org. Thanks guys for coming on. This has been a great conversation. Really learned a lot today.

Dr. Justin Czerniawski:

Thanks, Tim.

Wesley Spridgeon:

Thanks so much, Tim.

Tim Pickett:

All right, everybody, stay safe out there.

By UtahMarijuana.org
Published October 15, 2021
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