Medical Marijuana Cultivation and Processing Hazardous Waste Requirements

Marijuana has been a hotly contested topic for decades.  An issue that’s pertinent to growers or processors of marijuana is how to legally dispose of the waste generated by cannabis cultivation.

Regulations affecting medical marijuana cultivation are specific to the over 30 states that have legalized it, as well as the states that legalized it for recreational use.  Federal regulators have kept cannabis as a Schedule 1 controlled substance under federal law, which requires tightly regulated handling. State laws can be daunting and complex, especially when it comes to hazardous waste disposal management.

Medical Marijuana Hazardous Waste Removal

Waste that comes from cannabis cultivation is very different from other commercial or industrial byproducts that require hazardous waste disposal.  That’s because cannabis waste may contain regulated substances (i.e. marijuana mixtures that would be identified as Schedule 1 controlled substance). If cannabis waste is treated as regular garbage, it can be disastrous for the company for several reasons:

-Cannabis waste can be subject to search and seizure- without a warrant.

-Spent chemicals used to extract plant oils may require hazardous waste disposal.

-Residual THC- the chemical responsible for most of the euphoric and medicinal effects, are poisonous to animals and can disrupt the local ecological system if not disposed of properly.

Examples of Marijuana Waste Removal Regulations

In the states of Colorado and Illinois, all cannabis waste is required to be rendered so it becomes unusable and unrecognizable.   It must be mixed with either organic or inorganic solid nonhazardous waste material so there is at least 50% non-cannabis material in the mixture.  In Illinois, it must be disposed of through a licensed disposal company or facility.

In Colorado, any and all instances of cannabis hazardous waste disposal must be logged for the current year. The log must contain the specific individual who is responsible for that instance, along with weight, time and date of the occurrence.

The written log must be filed and accessible for 3 years afterward, able to be viewed on demand by various authorities.  The information entered into the log must also be e-filed for redundancy purposes onto a website created specifically for marijuana waste monitoring.

Marijuana ByProduct Waste Disposal

Byproducts of marijuana productions and processing also must be assessed against federal , state and regional regulations to ensure proper disposal.  Typical byproducts that would be subject to these regulations are marijuana flowers, trim, roots, stalks, leaves and residue. These byproducts would also require hazardous waste disposal.

Wastewater that’s created from marijuana production and processing is also considered hazardous waste and should be disposed of accordingly. Please note that if a cannabis byproduct has been determined non-hazardous, then only the standards for non-hazardous waste are applied.

Consult with an Expert

Since the major contaminants in cannabis are still considered Schedule 1, consulting with an expert before disposing of cannabis waste or byproduct waste is highly recommended.

If you’re looking to dispose of hazardous or non-hazardous waste, please contact HWH Environmental at


Author: Mark Chocola

With over 25 years of experience in the hazardous waste disposal industry, Mark Chocola is one of the driving forces behind HWH Environmental that are committed to providing safe, compliant, and cost-effective hazardous waste solutions. His deep industry knowledge and dedication to customer service have made HWH Environmental a trusted partner for businesses across the United States.