Georgia lawmakers considering ways to deal with Cannabis waste

Georgia lawmakers considering ways to deal with cannabis waste

Georgia state lawmakers are pondering how the state should regulate the waste generated from the legal manufacturing of cannabis products, including hemp and medical marijuana.

Last week, the House Study Committee on Cannabis Waste and Recycling held a two-day hearing to discuss the possibilities, which include composting, additional manufacturing and energy production.

"People have asked me, 'well, how did this concept come to be?'" state Rep. Mesha Mainor, D-Atlanta, said during the hearing. "And so Georgia is entering into the medical marijuana space. And the question is, all of the products that Georgia will be manufacturing, nothing is going to come out perfectly. And so what do we do with this waste?"

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, state law allows qualified residents to legally possess up to 20 fluid ounces of "low THC oil." However, the recreational use of marijuana is still banned in Georgia, though some cities have taken a lax approach to enforcement.

In September, the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission awarded two production licenses to companies, the first ever awarded in the state. With the licenses, the companies can produce low-THC oil and products.

"Cannabis waste includes dirt, water and any unused plant matter like root stalks and stems," Nick Bowman, a policy analyst for the Council for State Governments, told the committee. "Since cannabis is a Schedule I drug, it can't be thrown away like other products.

"Without any federal guidelines, states have had to create their own policies," Bowman added. Many "state policies are similar to policies for hazardous waste. The overall goal is to prevent cannabis waste from unauthorized access or making its way to the black market."

One potential method is to use the waste as compost on-site or sold to other farms for fertilizer. Cultivators could also sell the cannabis waste to farms or ranches for use as animal bedding.

Bowman said that if sold to a non-cannabis farm, the material must have a THC level of 0.3% or less.

"If we don't have creative solutions for how we deal with that waste, it compounds the environmental inequity that we already see in the way that landfills and other disposal sites are disproportionately landed ... in black and brown and poor communities," Matthew Williams, president of Atlanta's Interdenominational Theological Center, told the committee. "So that's one of those kinds of systemic solutions that a leverage point over here impacts a life outcome over here."

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Region: Georgia


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