The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the adult-use of cannabis in California in January of 2018, making the recreational use of marijuana legal for those over the age of 21. This legalization calls for a well-maintained infrastructure in order to compliantly manage waste generated in the cannabis industry. “Cannabis waste” is defined as waste that contains cannabis and that has been made unusable and unrecognizable in the manner prescribed in California Code of Regulations § 5054.
§ 5054. Destruction of Cannabis Goods Prior to Disposal
(a) Licensees shall not dispose of cannabis goods unless disposed of as cannabis waste, defined under section 5000(e)(g) of this division.
(b) Cannabis waste shall be stored, managed, and disposed of in accordance with all applicable waste management laws, including, but not limited to, Division 30 of the Public Resources Code.
(c) Cannabis goods intended for disposal shall remain on the licensed premises until destroyed into cannabis waste. The licensee shall ensure that:
(1) Access to the cannabis goods is restricted to the licensee, its employees or agents; and Bureau of Cannabis Control Regular Regulations Text 15-Day Notice October 2018 – Page 51 of 152
(2) Storage of the cannabis goods allocated for disposal is separate and distinct from other cannabis goods.
(d) In order to be disposed of as cannabis waste To be rendered as cannabis waste for proper disposal, including disposal as defined under Public Resources
Hemp, CBD, and THC-Containing Wastes – What’s the Difference?
Code section 40192, cannabis goods must shall first be destroyed on the licensed premises., which at a minimum, This includes, at a minimum, removing or separating the cannabis goods from any packaging, or container, and rendering it unrecognizable and unusable. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to require vape cartridges to be emptied of cannabis oil prior to disposal, provided that the vape cartridge itself is unrecognizable and unusable at the time of disposal.
(e) Licensees, in compliance with all applicable hazardous waste laws and regulations, shall ensure the proper handling of any hazardous waste, as defined under Public Resources Code section 40141.
(f) Licensees that have rendered cannabis goods as organic waste, defined under Public Resources Code section 42649.8, shall comply with all applicable organic waste laws and regulations.
(g) Cannabis waste on the licensed premises shall be secured in a receptacle or area that is restricted to the licensee, its employees, or an authorized waste hauler.
(h) A licensee shall report all cannabis waste activities, up to and including disposal, into the track and trace system, as required under Chapter 1, Article 6 of this division.
Authority: Section 26013, Business and Professions Code. Reference: Sections 26013 and 26070, Business and Professions Code.
Hemp describes the fiber spun from the stem of the cannabis sativa plant, and is used to manufacture a variety of commodities including textiles, paper, and rope. Aside from these useful items, hemp can be processed and extracted to afford cannabidiol, a cannabinoid commonly abbreviated as CBD.
CBD is a non-euphoric compound that when ingested does not produce (and even counteracts) a “high” as in the case of the most familiar cannabinoid, THC. CBD has become one of the preferred treatments for many common ailments including chronic pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia and more. This has led to a massive boom in the CBD market sector, with CBD-infused products now being sold in spas, cafes, pharmacies, salons, as well as other retailers in across a broad purview of industries.
Cannabis waste is considered organic waste if it is not combined or contains any hazardous or toxic material. If the waste contains THC, it must be mixed with an aggregate material until it is deemed “unusable and unrecognizable”. This is to prevent the waste from discharging into soil or a water source or being ingested by animals or minors.
For this reason, cannabis waste needs to be securely stored and only accessed by authorized personnel. When treated as regular trash, marijuana waste can be subject to search and seizure—without a warrant—provoking a costly legal problem.
Some of the most common cannabis-related EPA violations are due to improper or inadequate documentation of cannabis waste and/or its removal. Typically, jurisdictions consider marijuana flowers, stalks, roots, trim, leaves, residue and wastewater to require hazardous waste removal.
Disposal of Cannabis Waste
Cannabis waste can be disposed of in a permitted landfill, incineration, composting, or by means of in-vessel digestion. In addition to organic waste generation in the cannabis industry, federal and state regulations require durable childproof packaging for both hemp and cannabis-related products.
This may require several layers of plastic packaging, in addition to tins, joint tubes, plastic bottles, and zip locking bags. This on its own causes a hazardous waste issue given the growing popularity of cannabis products.
The rules for both plastic waste disposal, recycling, and cannabis waste disposal can become conflated, so expert advice is key.
If you need assistance with these matters, reach out to a certified environmental service provider near you!