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Are Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Held to Medical Waste Disposal Requirements? Yes!

Medical marijuana disposal? Yes, there are laws for that.

With more and more states legalizing medical marijuana, dispensaries must be held to stringent standards and requirements when it comes to how and when they dispose of marijuana waste.  The reason is cannabis is considered a Schedule I Controlled Substance, therefore it must adhere to the federal Controlled Substances Act.  The reason is simple: byproducts may still contain regulated substances.

In this instance, cannabis disposal is similar to pharmaceutical waste disposal.  Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s medicinal effects.  If not disposed of properly, it can poison animals and have adverse effects on local ecology.

Currently there are 29 states that have legalized medical marijuana, and while federal laws exist to control the substance, it is up to each state to handle its cultivation, storage, and disposal.

In Illinois, for example, dispensaries are required to destroy cannabis and cannabis products in order to render it unusable.  According to the state, the “… allowable method to render cannabis waste unusable is by grinding and incorporating the cannabis waste with other ground materials so the resulting mixture is at least 50% non-cannabis waste by volume.” Facilities must also file electronic documentation of destruction and keep it for 5 years.

In Washington state, it is very much the same.  According to the state’s law,  “…the allowable method to render marijuana plant waste unusable is by grinding and incorporating the marijuana plant waste with other ground materials so the resulting mixture is at least fifty percent non-marijuana waste by volume.”  This is almost the same as Illinois’ disposal requirements verbatim.

In Colorado, state rules require that medical marijuana waste be mixed with oil, cardboard or other products that make the drugs impossible to ingest.  The waste should be disposed of in a locked container.

Marijuana businesses — just like other businesses — impact our environment.  Environmental laws relating to water rights, energy consumption, pollution, and overall carbon footprint all can and do impact how dispensaries handle inventory and disposing of it.  These laws, and proper disposal, are essential for the protection of communities and the environment.

Want to learn more? Follow Red Bags’ blog to be up to date on the latest happenings in the medical waste industry.

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