In the early days of recreational marijuana legalization, environmental protection was not high on the list of priorities for state regulators. Today, more than half of the states in the US have a recreational and/or medical marijuana industry, yet most state regulatory authorities are solely focused on reducing (if not eliminating) public safety and the impact and scale of illegal drug sales. Continuing to focus. All this despite the fact that the cannabis industry has grown extensively and is against air, water, pesticide and waste regulations that can vary from state to state. This makes it particularly difficult and financially challenging for licensed cannabis operators to operate from a sustainability standpoint.
In most states, cannabis regulatory agencies are separate from state environmental departments, which can lead to operators being ignorant and ignoring environmental regulations until they are licensed. For example, registered marijuana dispensary (RMD) applicants in Massachusetts may not be aware that obtaining an RMD registration does not guarantee that their operation is in compliance with environmental regulations enforced by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MasDEP). .
Fortunately, as cannabis legalization spreads across the states, more state agencies are beginning to recognize the substantial environmental impacts of the cannabis industry. To try and reduce the huge amount of electricity, water and pesticides used by an industry that simultaneously produces organic and packaging waste, regulatory agencies are now addressing the issue of sustainability in the cannabis industry. is addressing.
Increased legalization and growing market size have allowed for greater investment in technologies and developments that provide more energy-efficient operations. This results in lower greenhouse gas emissions derived from energy production. The use of full-spectrum LED lights by cannabis growers has been one of the most significant energy-saving developments in recent years.
Both Massachusetts and Illinois have passed laws requiring cannabis facilities to have an average light load of 36 watts per square foot above a canopy, the Design Lights Consortium in line with the Massachusetts Code. (DLC) Qualified Product List For gardening light fixtures. Massachusetts cannabis growers must also provide their Cannabis PowerScore details in their license applications, according to the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.
A single cannabis plant requires ten gallons of water before cultivation. Although growing in a wet outdoor environment will reduce some of this water use, in some states the outdoor climate is an unsuitable choice for cannabis companies. Pesticides, heavy metals, excess and high contaminants as well as other toxins are carried downstream by runoff from both conventional crops and cannabis cultivation. Mandatory indoor agriculture affects urban water sources due to the discharge of waste fertilizer and commercial cleaners, which in turn demand existing wastewater treatment facilities.
Strict rules are being made regarding the use of water in markets across the country. For example, California regulators made cannabis cultivation policy, which sets rules to reduce the impact of cannabis cultivation on wildlife and waterways.
organic hemp waste And single-use consumer packaging accounts for a significant portion of the waste produced by industrial-scale cannabis cultivation and processing. To increase sustainable disposal options for organic cannabis waste, the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) recently introduced new sustainability policies that enable licensees to avoid the 50/50 cannabis waste disposal mandate (it requires is to mix equal amounts of plant waste material with a non-consumable product such as cat litter to render it unusable). On-site composting, anaerobicization, and other waste disposal solutions are among the emerging waste disposal options.
change in cannabis packaging Requirements are another way cannabis companies hope to become more sustainable. While new Colorado regulations allow dispensaries to recycle commercial cannabis packaging, the thickness and type of material needed to make child-resistant packaging still proves excessive and wasteful.
As more states consider medical marijuana or recreational legalization in 2021, the industry risks setting an alarming trend for plastic use that, if not tackled, will rise to dangerous levels. The prospect of federal cannabis legalization presents a huge opportunity to become the industry model for environmentally conscious operations. While regulations are likely to become more streamlined in the future, it is unlikely that operators will ever be subjected to less regulation, especially in terms of environmental sustainability. Investing in long-term sustainability policies and processes today can only help the cannabis business succeed in the long run.
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