How Green is Cannabis?

On January 1, 2018, recreational cannabis, more commonly known as weed, became legal to cultivate and sell in California. The expansion and transparency of new legal markets has since shown that cannabis production is not, unfortunately, without waste. 

Cannabis Plant Production

As with other agriculture, harsh pesticides and fertilizers may be used to grow the cannabis plant. These chemicals can contaminate our water sources and are unsafe for local sewer systems. Organically-grown plants contain less chemicals and are a healthier option. 

Cannabis Plant Waste

As long as it is free of hazardous chemicals or toxins, cannabis waste is considered organic waste. Similar to yard trimmings and leaves that are traditionally accepted in curbside organic waste collection, cannabis waste in SLO County can be placed in the organics cart for collection and transportation to a processing facility where it will be diverted from the landfill and turned into nutrient-rich soil.

Electronic Waste

One method of consuming cannabis is through an electronic vaporizer. While many of these devices are reusable and have rechargeable batteries, cheaper options are generally intended for one-time use and are often thrown in the garbage. Electronic waste like vaporizer pens should be disposed of properly at the household hazardous waste (HHW) facility and not in the trash. 

Tip: This California-based company offers a cannabis waste management solution and recycling options for vaporizers.

Product Stewardship

With legalization has come an emergence of sustainably-branded companies that make products from organically-grown cannabis or hemp. These products contain recyclable packaging or are made from sustainably-sourced materials. As with any other product on the shelf, the most eco-conscious option is one that is widely recyclable (i.e. made of glass or paper), made of recycled-content or sustainably sourced materials, and/or containing organic ingredients.