The Environmental Impact of Medical Marijuana Packaging
There are two types of green legislation out there. One is the stuff we’ve already been covering: medical and recreational marijuana laws across the country. The other legislation is something that is often cared about by the same people who are pushing for legal use of cannabis: environmental protections.
Both of these efforts are supported more often by leaders from the Democratic party, and you can usually go to any cannabis legalization festival and find tons of literature about the environment.
With that said, there’s still an odd conflict that arises: much of the packaging for medical and recreational use conflicts with the idea of environmental protection. Generally, customers and patients alike receive cannabis products in bulky packaging that uses a lot of plastics (and sometimes, these plastics aren’t even recyclable).
The Impact of Marijuana Packaging
On top of these materials just sitting around forever and causing harm to the environment, there’s also an overuse of them. When you walk out of many dispensaries, not only do you have the recreational or medical marijuana plastic containers around your herb as you buy it but then that must go into a plastic sealable bag around it. A lot of these seals are made of materials that are even harder for the environment to break down than a regular plastic bag would be.
Landfill that plastic packaging could end up in
Why Are These Materials Used?
Using these types of materials is never eco-friendly, which is why many cannabis companies aim not to use them. But, that’s not always possible. Due to existing state marijuana laws, regarding recreational and medical use, a lot of that extra plastic and energy is going into making these products inaccessible to children, like extra seals.
In California, as this article from Emerald Report points out, every product must be sealed before it hits a shelf, and then, all of those sealed products must go into the resealable bag. In other states, as long as there is one sealed portion, that’s enough. You can walk out of dispensaries in states like Nevada with the brand’s sealed (and still not totally eco-friendly) packaging. California, however, requires was a lot of people are calling an unnecessary double sealing, amidst a range of cannabis complications.
How a dispensary would look without individual packaging
A big issue with California’s packaging, as the Emerald Report article pointed out, is this type of double seal – which is made of plastic that cannot be recycled – will take forever to break down, thus filling up landfills. This same seal can be found in states like Nevada, on exit bags, and in tons of other sealed products.
Beyond packaging, the labels – legally mandatory on all marijuana packaging – take additional energy to create, as well as adding additional plastic to the product.
What Can Be Done
In terms of the laws, requiring less of these seals would be a big help, when it comes to making marijuana more green. Child protection is key, but requiring two seals to make sure a child doesn’t get to the product may not be the most sensible solution; if a child can get through one seal, they can get through two. If you’re in California, that’s something to call your local representative about.
Another important effort would be the use of biodegradable packing. This would mean that recreational or medical marijuana plastic containers would simply dissolve in the environment, instead of sticking around in landfills and taking up space. This isn’t always easy, however. As the laws change, new alternatives have to be tested by companies, which costs money and energy.
Thankfully, companies like Zoots and Humboldt Cut have already made changes to fight this. They’ve pioneered packagings that can be childproof, but which actually contain no plastic. As these regulations continue to grow, however, the efforts companies like these have already made may start to fall behind growing consumer demands, making that eco-friendly factor a bit harder for the cannabis industry to achieve.