Cannabis Just Got A Little Greener In Washington

SB 5376 will cut down on cannabis waste ending up in landfills

Washington state took a big step in making the cannabis industry a little greener when the legislature passed SB 5376 which will allow the sale of cannabis waste and cut down on landfill waste. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee, with the help of sisters McKenzie and Avery, on Monday, March 25, 2024.

SB 5376 allows a licensed producer or processor to sell cannabis waste to the public to be used in gardening applications such as composting or as insecticides, in industrial materials such as “hempcrete,” or many other uses that seem to be growing along with the industry.

The Need for a Greener Industry

Washington state currently has roughly 2,200 cannabis producer and processor licenses. While not all are the same and waste generated from each can be significantly different, Zero Waste Washington estimates cannabis producers can produce roughly 500-1,000 pounds of organic cannabis waste every week. Further records from Washington state show that cannabis operations as a whole can produce tens of thousands of pounds of organic cannabis waste each year.

Prior to the passage of SB 5376, Washington law required producers and processors to render all cannabis waste unusable before it was to be destroyed, typically in landfills.

Producers and processors would routinely mix the organic cannabis waste with anything from food or cat litter to chemicals or harmful additives and oil as required by law to make render the material unusable by bad actors. This unusable mixture would then be disposed of as dangerous waste, usually sent to the landfill. Instead, this waste is now able to be diverted from the landfill and used for more environmentally safe purposes.

Proponents of the measure have long since argued that this is only the first step in making the cannabis industry more ecofriendly by cutting down on waste and associated pollution. Another area of focus is on limiting or eliminating plastic packaging for cannabis products like edibles and raw flower.

Restrictions Still Apply, Although a Greener Future Is Ahead for Washington

The new law does have a few restrictions but for the most part, should provide a much more ecologically friendly option for waste products to the Washington state cannabis industry.  Restrictions in the bill include (a) the waste to be sold would not be designated as hazardous or hazardous waste; (b) the seller notifies the Washington state Department of Agriculture before the sale; and (c) the seller of the waste product makes all sales available to the public on an equal and nondiscriminatory basis. Additionally, any unsold cannabis waste must still then be rendered unusable before leaving the producer or processor.

Washington’s passage of SB 5376 signals a significant shift toward sustainability in the cannabis industry. By repurposing cannabis waste and reducing landfill reliance, the state is not only embracing ecologically safe practices but also setting a precedent for an environmentally responsible cannabis industry.

Source: Canna Law Blog

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