“Evaluating the effects of gamma-irradiation for decontamination of medicinal cannabis” looked at 4 separate strains of cannabis produced by Bedrocan BV in the Netherlands and tested samples before and after the irradiation process to test for changes in cannabinoids, terpenes and moisture content.
The results of the peer reviewed research showed no change in THC, CBD or moisture content, and minimal damage to a few terpenes present on the cannabis. While only a few terpenes were diminished, the exact ratio of terpenes in a strain is moderately changed. The overall profile is still clearly recognizable between the different varieties tested. The samples were compared before and immediately after standard gamma-irradiation treatment, and then evaluated visually and with GC and HPLC analysis methods.
Upon analysis, the main terpenes affected were the monoterpenes myrcene, cis-ocimene and terpinolene, and the sesquiterpenes gamma-selinene, eudesma-3,7(11)-diene and gamma-selinene. The study speculates this may be because these more volatile terpenes are more likely to evaporate when their molecules are ‘sped-up’ by the gamma irradiation.
Interestingly, the degradation was not the same for each strain. Myrcene, for example, was noticeably reduced in two varieties, but not in a third. The author of the research paper, Arno Hazekamp, speculates that this “indicates a protective effect that cannabis components may have on each other when present in specific proportions.”