Cannabis waste - compliance & legislation

All the waste created in the cannabis industry must be dealt with in the correct manner. With this industry growing faster than ever are you operating in a fully compliant manner and able to deal with the influx of waste as business grows?

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The cannabis industry is a fast-growing sector that has seen numerous countries over the past decade decriminalise the growing, selling & consumption of this herbal health alternative.

With all this in mind, it is still critical you know the laws and legislations within the country you are operating in.

Laws & Compliance

Depending on where you live in the world, rules on cultivation of cannabis vary. In late 2013 and early 2014, Uruguay became the first country that legalized both use (recreational and medicinal) and home cultivation of cannabis plants. However, while locals are allowed to buy marijuana for recreational purposes, foreigners are prohibited from buying. Canada legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in 2001, while the Federal Cannabis Act legalized its use for recreational purposes 17 years later. In mid-September 2018, the South African Constitutional Court decriminalized the cultivation and use of marijuana in private settings. But even though private use of marijuana has been wholly decriminalized, selling or buying cannabis, along with all cannabis-based products like oil and seeds, remains illegal. Other countries, including The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, the USA and several other countries all have individual laws around the cultivation and medicinal or recreational use of marijuana.

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cannabis plant incineration

There are still strict laws about distributing and shipping cannabis, whether that’s within your own

country or internationally. In America, as more and more states begin to legalise the recreational use

of cannabis, domestic delivery of cannabis has surged – further accelerated by the pandemic and

subsequent lockdowns. For example, Khaled Naim, the CEO and co-founder of Onfleet, a San

Francisco-based delivery management software company, raised $14million in October 2020 to scale

his business and keep up with the pandemic-inspired growth4

. And for Sava, a high-end cannabis

delivery platform that serves 70 cities around San Francisco, the pandemic drove a 60 per cent sales

surge since orders were first mandated in March 20205.

Legalising cultivation of cannabis is creating a waste management problem. The growing of Marijuana

on a commercial scale creates large volumes of waste plant matter.

The transportation and disposal of cannabis waste is specialized and requires special licensing and

compliance; you must meet various regulatory requirements while also adhering to local environmental

standards. In some states and countries, failure to meet cannabis waste disposal requirements can

lead to monetary fines up to $15,000 and/or cancellation of a cultivation license.

Incineration is the most effective, bio secure and safe method to treat cannabis waste. Product should

be ground up and mixed prior to destruction, at an approx. 50/50 ratio with other non-compostable

waste such as cardboard, paper and plastics. Cannabis waste is typically categorised as:

• Marijuana plant waste not processed with solvents (stalks, leaves and stems)

• Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contaminated materials

• Solid marijuana sample plant waste

• Marijuana Waste processed with solvents.

Any plant waste processed with solvents is classed as hazardous waste and must, therefore, be

disposed of through a licensed landfill or better still through incineration.