A State-by-State Look at How to Dispose and Compost for Cannabis Compliance
Any cannabis growing or production operation is sure to generate green waste. In most industries it’s easy to compost any waste or throw it out with the rest of your refuse, never giving things a second thought.
When it comes to the disposal of cannabis, however, things can get complicated in a hurry. Each state has their own set of regulations and requirements that dictate how growers, farmers, and producers handle green waste. Some of these requirements are fairly straightforward and easily adhered to while others can border the extreme. Either way, it is crucial to follow these varying regulations for cannabis disposal to avoid any headaches or hiccups with the local authorities. Let’s take a look at some legal states and the green waste requirements for cannabis disposal in each.
California Green Waste Requirements
California has three different state agencies in charge of setting the cannabis waste requirements for different arms of the industry here. CalCannabis is the arm to focus on for growers and farmers as it sets he requirements for cultivators, processors, and nurseries. One initial distinction for those within the industry who fall under CalCannabis’ regulations is that these cultivators do not need to render waste cannabis material “unusable and unrecognizable” as required by other businesses who are not classified as cultivators, processors, or nurseries. This is a benefit to growers as it eases the green waste requirements a bit allowing them to dispose of cannabis plant by-product in a similar fashion to other compostable, non-toxic materials such as lawn and yard waste.
As long as cannabis waste is not combined with any toxic or hazardous materials, California classifies it as organic waste and it can be composted on-site by any producer who falls under the regulations of CalCannabis and holds the appropriate license. If a grower chooses to get rid of their green waste rather than compost the material, they must follow the regulations in regards to who can haul away cannabis waste and to what type of solid-waste facility it can be brought to. New requirements, as of 2019, state
that any cannabis cultivator that creates four or more cubic yards of solid waste a week must recycle their own waste. To meet these regulations, cultivators can compost on-site, have green waste picked up by a hauler that recycles organic waste, or haul the material themselves to a location that recycles organic
See the complete set of green waste requirements for California.
Colorado Green Waste Requirements
The regulations for cannabis disposal are a bit different in Colorado. Article XVIII, Section 16 of the
Colorado Constitution states that a “Marijuana Establishment” is any cultivation facility, testing facility,
product manufacturing facility, or retail store and has the same set of regulations on green waste for all of
these types of businesses. The main requirement is that all cannabis plant or product waste must be
rendered “unusable and unrecognizable” prior to disposal. This requirement is met by grinding, chipping,
and mixing any cannabis waste with approved non-consumable solid wastes until the waste mixture is at
least 50 percent non-marijuana waste. The approved solid wastes to mix with green cannabis waste
include: paper, plastic, cardboard, or compostable oils such as cooking grease.
After the green waste is made unrecognizable through the above process, it must be either composted on
site, taken to an approved solid waste management facility, or taken to a compost facility that has a
designation from the state. Green waste must be in an unrecognizable form before leaving any “Marijuana
Establishment” and this waste must be identified, weighed, and tracked from the moment it leaves the
establishment until it is disposed of properly. All licensees with the state must also maintain “accurate and
comprehensive” records of any and all waste material as well. Failure to follow any of these steps for
proper disposal can result in hefty fines or loss of marijuana licenses.
Check out this Compliance Bulletin for green waste disposal in Colorado.
Oklahoma Green Waste Requirements
Growing hemp in Oklahoma is recently legal as part of the 2018 Farm Bill but also due to the state’s own
Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program (OIHAPP). The green waste requirements in
Oklahoma are also somewhat unique and are different for cannabis grown for medical purposes versus
hemp grown under the parameters of the OIHAPP.
The Medical Marijuana Control Program as laid out by the state of Oklahoma say that all “waste
generated during production, processing and testing must be stored, managed, and disposed of in
accordance but not limited to the waste and disposal standards set forth under the Uniform Controlled and
Dangerous Substances Act.” To find out more on how to comply check out more details of the Act here.
The green waste requirements spelled out by the OIHAPP state that incineration is the only acceptable
method of destruction unless the Department of Agriculture Food & Forestry gives out written permission
for an alternative method. The hemp licensee must also keep a video record of the “collection, ignition,
and incineration” of all plant parts. These burns must also meet the state requirements for a prescribed
Check out the OIHAPP regulations for hemp in Oklahoma.
Oregon Green Waste Requirements
The green waste requirements for cannabis disposal in Oregon are pretty straightforward. The general
requirement is that all “marijuana or marijuana item” must be “unfit for human or animal consumption or
use at the licensed premises.” To render green waste unusable in Oregon, one can mix plant matter with
yard debris, wood chips, or other compostable material and then compost properly, mix with other
garbage, sand, or soil and take to the landfill, or burn where permitted and compost.
Aside from this broad requirement, solid waste such as plant material and used plant soil must be either
composted, processed for recovery/reuse, or disposed of at approved solid waste facilities. After the
cannabis waste is rendered unusable by the above methods it must be safely secured until disposed of
properly. The material must be stored in a locked container that cannot be easily moved or inside a locked
and secure building until it can be transported for proper disposal.
Check out the Department of Environmental Quality for more information on regulations.
Take a look at this quick checklist to help dispose of green waste in Oregon.