Eco Friendly Cannabis Industry

Eco Friendly Cannabis Industry

So you have grown your own organic cannabis, cured and dried it well and then...You store it in glass jars and the coffeeshop/club you’re aligned to divides it into many small little plastic baggies. Great, you do everything to make it as organic, plant and human friendly and it still ends up in a bag that is harmful for the environment and thus humans too…

Legal industry struggling with eco friendly solutions

Personally, I’ve completely switched to glass only containers, for flowers and extracts. I hate to see my favorite plant in a plastic bag. After all, most other drugs are also packaged in the same plastic bags. Another reason is hash will stick to the plastic bag (which can be easily solved by placing the baggie in the fridge for a couple of minutes). And when it’s flower, it’s highly likely your fresh, just bought nug is going to get squeezed in your pockets. And it’s like I mentioned before, bad for the environment.

As a Dutchman living in one of the bigger cities, it’s common to find empty plastic baggies. Not just outside of coffeeshops, but really throughout the whole city. As well as plastic joint tubes.

Meanwhile, in Canada, the legal cannabis industry has also shown it has not solved this issue either. Actually, it might be even worse. Partly because of bad laws, but perhaps also because of a lack of interest in innovation in this area. There are guidelines issued on how to legally package cannabis. Which goes a bit too far for me, since they stimulate completely neutral packaging.

SSSC Cannabis In Jars
SSSC Cannabis In Jars

On the other hand, in today's industry, you also see an overhauled movement for hip packaging, from specific logos to cannabis packed in tuna cans.

In both cases annoying, because that means that thanks to the sealed packaging you have no insight into, or can smell, what you are buying. And if you think they only put the nicest, big buds in for the consumer… You’re gonna be disappointed. You’ll often find small nugs because after all, they need to be sold too.

Dry Frozen EX.Tractor & Karel's Haze
Dry Frozen EX.Tractor & Karel's Haze

What you can do as a consumer

I’m not sure if this is also possible in the legal dispensaries in Canada (perhaps only in BC), but at least in places like The Netherlands, Spain, and several US states, the consumer is able to do something about it.

Your vendor ideally serves your cannabis with gloves and chopsticks from a glass container, which is stored out of the light (or blocks the UV). You are allowed to smell and see it of course. After you’ve chosen, you can get that good looking nug (instead of being broken in two). After which you offer your own brought (glass) container in which they put your freshly bought cannabis.

Unfortunately, I don't think there is one coffeeshop that does all of that. Maybe in Spain or in the United States. But if they’re known for weighing it in front of you, consider thinking ahead and bring your own glass container.

This way we could take responsibility for our ecological footprint. Of course, we could (and perhaps should) also not board planes anymore. But perhaps when you see the images of our seas full of plastic again, you will start to think that every little bit helps and it is only logical that change is appropriate.

I once penned down a similar piece for the Dutch website CNNBS, after which I heard back from people and coffeeshops they actually took action. Albeit only a few.

And the rest of the cannabis industry?

There’s more to the cannabis industry than the actual product and everything that’s related to it of course. Whether its nutrients like BioTabs, seeds, lights or other consumables: an ecological solution needs to be found.

Most of you reading this will by now be yelling out hemp is the solution! "I don't know if hemp is going to save the world, but it's the only thing that can”, Jack Herer once said after all.

Right now, between 4.8 and 12.7 million tons of plastic materials make it into the oceans annually according to a 2015 study published in Science Magazine. While some go towards hemp and glass, others are going in the direction of using plastic removed from the oceans.

Hemp is the solution?

Karel's Haze & Dutch Passion Cap with SSSC Badge
Karel's Haze & Dutch Passion Hemp Cap

It is difficult to say what is ultimately the solution. The prettiest one would obviously be hemp, whether as hemp plastic, hemp paper and so on. This, in turn, would stimulate the hemp industry, which was recently (December 2018) legalized in all states with Trump’s signature. This way we would go away from the oil-based plastics, which would solve a plethora of other problems without going too much into detail.

It isn’t the first time hemp is legalized either. The 1937 Marijuana Tax Act regulated hemp by levying a tax on producers of the crop but ended up destroying the hemp industry instead of helping it.

Famously, hemp was promoted through the movie Hemp for Victory in the Second World War. The movie came into the hands of cannabis activist Jack Herer, after which it gained popularity and can now be watched publicly. Only to be made illegal again in 1970 because of it’s close relation to Cannabis Sativa and the War on Drugs taking hold.

Temporary solutions until hemp is more available

Hemp has only recently been legalized in the United States and isn’t as available yet in amounts you would like it to be. Importing from China is perhaps an option, as China is already ahead and is the largest producer of hemp in the world with 400,000 acres/162,000 ha. But importing and exporting is obviously a strain on the environment too.

Until then, you can start as a consumer to do something about it as I suggested earlier in this article. And as a company, it’s perhaps time to start thinking about your ecological footprint instead of only about the profits. It’s not like the cannabis industry is the only industry struggling with this, but it would be a good idea to lead by example.

Text by: Mauro Picavet
The Stoned Society