Did you know that marijuana is now legal in 33 states and Washington D.C.? Whether sold for medicinal or recreational purposes, the cannabis industry is booming – but not without strict regulations. In fact, cannabis waste disposal has become a serious concern for many companies, organizations, and municipalities. For those involved in the cannabis industry or those who are experiencing the impact of it, it’s critical to know what the laws are regarding its safe disposal. Here’s what you need to know about the proper disposal of marijuana-based products.
Types of cannabis waste
When most people think of cannabis waste, they tend to think of different parts of the plant such as stems, stalks, leaves, and flowers. But the cannabis industry actually produces much more waste than just the organic matter associated with the cultivation of the plant.
The chemicals used for extracting oil from plants include acetone, butane, and ethanol. Not only are these chemicals hazardous, but also once the oils have been extracted, the remaining plant is highly toxic. In addition, edible cannabis products that don’t meet quality standards as well as manufacturing byproducts such as gloves and beakers can also contain high levels of THC and/or pesticides and must be disposed of properly.
Cannabis retailers also generate waste that must be properly handled. This includes items intended for display as well as returned, damaged, or expired products. Any products that contain cannabis or the chemicals that make up cannabis are considered hazardous waste.
The recent legalization of recreational marijuana also produces cannabis waste. Those traveling to states where recreational marijuana is legal are in need of ways to properly dispose of unused portions before leaving airports and crossing borders. Cannabis products can be hazardous to both people and the environment and should not be mixed with regular trash or recycling.
Federal regulations regarding safe drug/contraband disposal
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the chemicals responsible for marijuana’s medicinal effects. THC is a federally controlled substance and is still classified as a Schedule I drug along with LSD and heroin. For this reason, cannabis waste must be treated the same as pharmaceutical waste. Cannabis manufacturers and retailers who ignore these regulations could invite unwanted attention from federal authorities and face serious consequences such as suspension of their license.
State regulations regarding cannabis waste disposal
States that have legalized medicinal and recreational use of cannabis have all enacted strict regulations regarding the disposal of waste products. In many states, plant waste that does not contain THC can be composted. However, products that do contain THC must be destroyed in a manner where they become unusable, such as grinding and mixing with other ground materials like cardboard. This waste then needs to be disposed of in a secure and locked container that cannot be accessed by unauthorized people until a licensed hazardous waste management company collects it.
Safe and effective cannabis waste disposal bins
Standard trash cans are not sufficient when it comes to disposing of cannabis waste. Cannabis waste disposal bins must prevent access to the items that have been deposited. SECURR features a line of disposal bins that are perfect for anyone that wants to ensure their cannabis waste is properly handled. The Indoor Pharmaceutical Disposal Kiosk is heavy-duty and ADA compliant. This durable disposal bin uses a chute-type loading door so that the contents cannot be removed until both locks on the service door are unlocked. Pharmaceutical bins require two locks that are keyed differently so that two people must be present to open the bin. With these bins, you can feel confident that your cannabis waste is secure until it is disposed of in a safe, effective, and compliant manner.
The Indoor Pharmaceutical Disposal Kiosk is made from corrosion-resistant galvannealed steel. The kiosk contains within it a regulated 19-gallon medical waste liner with a lid that can be attached for transport. These attractive containers weigh 90 pounds and come in a variety of colors to suit your needs. Options include an anti-graffiti clear-coat and custom graphics.
Examples of cannabis waste disposal bins in use
Many airports in the United States and Canada are using cannabis amnesty boxes and cannabis waste disposal bins in their lobbies and security checkpoints. This ensures that travelers can properly dispose of any unused portions of medicinal or recreational marijuana before traveling to other states or countries. In Canada, it is illegal to transport cannabis across the border. At Pearson Airport in Toronto, they have installed marijuana amnesty boxes at security checkpoints so international travelers can properly dispose of their cannabis before boarding their flights. Similar drug amnesty boxes have been installed at McCarran International Airport in Nevada and Aspen-Pitkin Airport in Colorado, among others.
Penalties for improper cannabis waste disposal
When cannabis companies fail to follow state and federal regulations, it can have costly ramifications. In Massachusetts, Mass Wellspring, a marijuana dispensary, was temporarily shut down when an inspection revealed the improper disposal of cannabis waste, among other violations. Cannabis retailers and testing labs that don’t follow regulations regarding cannabis waste disposal can also face the possibility of permanently losing their licenses.