Why We Take Pesticide Testing So Seriously

At Avitas, we cultivate a lot of our own flower and take great care to grow it using organic methods, but our grow is small, and we make a lot of oil, so we also work with local farms to source terrific starting material. Every so often we get a shipment of gorgeous flower that looks and smells great, but we have to send it back because it tests positive for pesticide. This breaks our hearts. However, we’re committed to bringing you the cleanest, most extraordinary extract possible and sometimes that means making some tough choices.

The Process

Before we place an order for a new shipment, we have farms sign an affidavit stating that they don’t use banned pesticides and if their crop tests positive, we return the flower and get refunded. Once we receive a shipment, we immediately send a sample out for testing, and nothing goes in our equipment until we get a clean result back. We’ve returned many shipments, and it doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but we still check every lot.

It’s Complicated

Sometimes a farm’s flower fails the test even after they’ve used every possible precaution and grown their flower using only the best of organic methods. This is where it gets complicated. Sometimes when growing outdoors, farmers are affected by what’s been planted in their fields in prior years. Pesticide doesn’t just go away once a harvest comes in. They can stay in the soil and can continue to affect what’s grown for many years to come. Sometimes, even when a farm is on clean soil, a nearby farm might spray their crops with conventional pesticides.  In agricultural regions like Washington and Oregon, crops like hops, apples, and wheat have much looser rules about what pesticides can be used, and natural factors like wind could mean that even with the best intentions, sometimes they fail the tests.

Why It Matters

One reason even a tiny amount of pesticide on the plant might be a more significant problem in finished oil is that the extraction process concentrates all the good stuff AND the bad stuff too. But a bigger worry is the complete lack of any scientific knowledge regarding the safety of inhaling smoked or vaped pesticides. Toxicity tests for pesticides only look at what might happen if you eat trace amounts in your food, and sometimes they look at skin contact or inhalation of vapors for worker safety. Many pesticides are by their very nature highly toxic and can convert to new molecules when heated at high temperatures. One particularly problematic pesticide that is used illegally on cannabis is myclobutanil. This molecule degrades into cyanide gas when it’s heated, so we want to make very sure that doesn’t end up in our oil!

Sure, our process is rigorous, but we care about what we put into our bodies, and we think you do too. We always test for pesticide, and never add any flavors, additives, or fillers to our pure golden goodness. After all, that’s the Avitas promise.

All Aboard the Terpene Train

At Avitas we think about terpenes a lot. They’re a crucial part of how we make the best cannabis oil cartridges in the industry. You may have read about our oil production techniques and how we remove cannabis plant terpenes at the beginning of each batch and then hand blend those same terpenes back in before that batch of oil is complete. But do you know why? Today, we wanted to dive in and explore just what terpenes are and why cannabis terpenes are a vital part of great cannabis extract.

Talking Terps

Herb defines terpenes as “...oils that give cannabis plants and flowers their unique smell.” However, terpenes are not just found in cannabis plants. You know those essential oils that that one person in your life won’t stop raving about? They’re packed with-- you guessed it--terpenes. Terpenes interact with our bodies in some amazing ways. For instance, tea tree oil is filled with terpinen-4-ol, γ-terpinene, and limonene all of which work together to bring you the antibacterial punch of tea tree oil. Lavender oil is similarly stuffed with terpenes including linalool, which gives lavender its unique scent and flavor. Lavender oil is thought to be soothing and may help people sleep or aid anxiety.

Cannabis Terpenes

In cannabis plants, the terpenes appear mainly in the same place we find the cannabinoids: the flower’s sticky resin glands. There are over a hundred terpenes found in cannabis plants, but the six most common are myrcene, linalool, caryophyllene, limonene, humulene, and pinene. They each have unique characteristics and when combined in different ways, give each strain its unique features and aroma. This is why we think it’s so important to preserve all of them, so our finished oil tastes and feels like the flower from which it was made. However, there’s also another, a less well-understood reason for the preservation of terpenes in cannabis oil cartridges.

The Entourage Effect

You may know about the main cannabinoids like THC and CBD and their role in cannabis. However, it’s clear that it’s not just the cannabinoids that work such wonders in our bodies: terpenes and other phytocompounds work in concert with the cannabinoids to impart medicinal and psychoactive effects. This phenomenon is what’s known as the “entourage effect.” Essentially, it’s the combination of everything working together that’s important—not just isolating a single active ingredient which is typical for modern pharmaceutical formulations. For more information on the entourage effect and its possible ramifications, check out this great article from Leafly. Since there are so many different terpenes that appear in different amounts, and many other compounds also present, there’s still a lot to learn about how they interact with each other and in our bodies.

From aroma to effectiveness, cannabis terpenes turbocharge our experience. That’s why we believe it’s so important to preserve and reintegrate them into our world-class cannabis oils and extracts. We never use terpenes from other plants or lab-synthesized terpenes the way other brands may because we believe that the whole plant is essential and we want you to have the best vaping experience possible. That’s just the Avitas way.