The Cannabis Industry is Growing at a Rapid Pace
In Canada, the number of people registered to purchase medical cannabis from licensed producers has skyrocketed since the federal commercial-access program was introduced in June 2013.
The most recent statistics from Health Canada show that at the end of July 2017, over 200,000 Canadians have signed up with licensed cannabis producers. There is a wealth of literature regarding the medical benefits of cannabis. The US National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, in its 400 page report in 2017, looked at more than 10,000 scientific studies and found strong evidence for helping chronic pain, lessening chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and relieving some symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
Strict Waste Disposal Regulations for Cannabis Cultivators
The growth of the cannabis industry is created another problem - how to handle plant waste generated from the cultivation of cannabis. Licensed medical cannabis cultivators in both the United States and Canada are required to adhere to strict regulations regarding the disposal of waste generated from the cultivation process. Most cultivators have attempted to use composting as a method to handle the plant waste. But the composting process can take months and requires a substantial amount of space, space that could be better utilised to grow additional cannabis plants. As a result of no other alternatives, cannabis cultivators rely on mixing plant waste with other waste and paying for trucking costs to dispose of in the landfill.
Example of Waste Disposal Regulations in the State of Colorado
Liquid waste from Medical Marijuana Businesses shall be disposed of in compliance all applicable federal, state and local laws, regulations, rules and other requirements.
Medical Marijuana and Medical Marijuana-Infused Product waste must be made unusable and unrecognizable prior to leaving the Licensed Premises.
Medical Marijuana and Medical Marijuana-Infused Product waste shall be rendered unusable and Unrecognizable through one of the following methods:
Grinding and incorporating the marijuana waste with non-consumable, solid wastes listed below such that the resulting mixture is at least 50 percent non-marijuana waste:
- Paper Waste
- Plastic Waste
- Cardboard Waste
- Food Waste
- Grease or other compostable oil waste
- Bokashi, or other compost activators
- Other wastes approved by the State Licensing Authority that will render the Medical Marijuana and Medical Marijuana-Infused Product waste unusable and Unrecognizable as marijuana; and
After Waste is Made Unusable and Unrecognizable. After the Medical Marijuana and Medical Marijuana-Infused Product waste is made unusable and Unrecognizable, then the rendered waste shall be:
- Disposed of at a solid waste site and disposal facility that has a Certificate of Designation from the local governing body;
- Deposited at a compost facility that has a Certificate of Designation from the Department of Public Health and Environment; or
- Composted on-site at a facility owned by the generator of the waste and operated in compliance with the Regulations Pertaining to Solid Waste Sites and Facilities (6 CCR 1007-2, Part 1) in the Department of Public Health and Environment.
A Licensee shall not dispose of Medical Marijuana and Medical Marijuana-Infused Product waste in an unsecured waste receptacle not in possession and control of the Licensee.
In addition to all other tracking requirements set forth in these rules, a Licensee shall utilize MITS to ensure its post-harvest waste materials are identified, weighed and tracked while on the Licensed Premises until disposed of.
All Medical Marijuana waste must be weighed before leaving any Medical Marijuana Business. A scale used to weigh Medical Marijuana waste prior to entry into the MITS system shall be certified in accordance with measurement standards established in Article 14 of Title 35, C.R.S. See Rule M 309 – Medical Marijuana Business: Marijuana Inventory Tracking Solution (MITS).
A Licensee is required to maintain accurate and comprehensive records regarding waste material that accounts for, reconciles, and evidences all waste activity related to the disposal of Marijuana. See Rule M 901 – Business Records Required.
A Licensee is required to maintain accurate and comprehensive records regarding any waste material produced through the trimming or pruning of a Medical Marijuana plant prior to harvest, which must include weighing and documenting all waste. Unless required by a MITS procedure, records of waste produced prior to harvest must be maintained on the Licensed Premises. All waste, whether produced prior or subsequent to harvest, must be disposed of in accordance with this rule and be made unusable and unrecognizable.
Source: State of Colorado