The fact that cannabis is a plant, adds to its great selling points and towards legalization. However, cannabis which is smokable has a minimal association with its actual agricultural state. Its buds (cured and dried) are plucked directly from the plant. However, for individuals seeking relief from a number of symptoms, or for customers looking for relaxation, natural remedies like cannabis are truly hard to find. Due to multiple factors, the growing plastic problem in the cannabis industry is concerning. With the rise of legalization for cannabis, there was also an introduction of an increase in environmental cost such as
- Disposable methods of consumption
- Packaging adhering to the laws
- Farming practices
All of the above have given rise to waste with no good ways for the industry to handle. Let’s try to understand what we have here and how would we step towards an eco-friendly future for the cannabis industry.
With the tight regulations of the cannabis industry, the consumers are dependant on the legal cannabis market. They are only going to receive whatever their local dispensary will decide to sell. However, a lot of consumers are looking for other practices that are sustainable, which is adding to their demands from the companies.
Curaleaf‘s Director of purchasing, Jed McWhorter, explained that with the increasing awareness of climate change globally, people are understanding their choices and are learning to deal with their excess waste. Reduction in the usage of single-use plastic would be a significant step, as many states have packaging requirements that lead to the use of single-use plastics in the cannabis industry.
McWhorter referred to the add-ons to the packaging, that is designed to keep children out of reach of these cannabis products. Additionally, these extra packaging restrictions aren’t applicable to other legal intoxicants, which can include alcohol, etc. Referring to the California regulations, the law authorized adult-use cannabis in California. However, there was a difference in the packaging requirements for formally “manufactured” cannabis products (topicals, edibles, and concentrates), and smokable cannabis (pre-rolled joints or flower).
Moreover, the state gives a packaging list that has the following requirements for a cannabis package –
- Child-safety – The plastic packaging of the cannabis product is required to be no less than 4 millimeters thick, and must also be heat-sealed while adhering to the Federal Poison Prevention Packaging Act.
- Opacity (only for edibles) – This requirement focuses on the use of amber-colored glass only, creating a preference for single-use plastics.
- Tamper-evident – This focuses on requirements such as plastic seals. which is typically a sticker adhered to the sides of the lid, which is ripped when the jars are opened. Typically, tamper-evident seals that can clearly tell if the product had been opened before or not.
- Resealable – Multi-purpose products are required to come in packaging with any sort of closure, whether an adhesive seal or a lid.
To top it all off, these are the requirements for California ONLY.
The 2 cannabis companies that are trying to combat these issues
Despite the need for the packaging to be single-use, there is no such law requiring the use of virgin plastic. This further provides the cannabis companies with the opportunity to look for alternatives, keeping factors like high material costs, in mind.
Ocean Cannabis Co.
The co-owners of Ocean Cannabis Co., Mary Ersig and her partner, started their company in 2013. However, only after legalization, and attending the MJBizCon in Las Vegas, Nevada, did they really understand the rapidly increasing environmental problem in the cannabis industry.
According to Ersig, there was a lot of plastic, with multiple layers in the packaging. Hence, they began using a paper cube instead, to turn towards something that consumers can simply dispose of in the recycling bin, as it is biodegradable. However, it didn’t take long for them to actually find the packaging source that they use currently – ocean plastic.
Currently, recycled plastic which is typically harvested from the ocean, owing to Oceanworks, is the main packaging source of Ocean Cannabis Co. The cannabis company uses plastic to turn it into pellets. They then, further transforming them into cubes which are then considered s their packaging. Ersig explains that they have utilized about 6 tons of plastic, found in the ocean. According to the estimates, Ocean Cannabis Co.s each product is the approximate equivalent of 15 straws’ value of plastic. However, it does not come for free.
Each Oceanworks plastic container costs 27 cents, while China’s boilerplate plastic packaging costs mere pennies per piece. Ersig discusses how this is the major reason why ocean-recovered plastic isn’t a widely used option in the cannabis industry.
Curaleaf, one of the biggest companies in the cannabis industry, also decided to explore other sustainable packaging options. However, it proved to be a tricky process. Additionally, Curaleaf possesses multiple product lines and operates in many states, which all require the company to adhere to their different requirements for packaging.
McWhorter explains how their cross-functional team ensures the packaging requirements in each state with 3 review sessions before they are printed. Furthermore, they use glass, recycled plastics, and paper, wherever they can.
Curaleaf explains, that while taking care of posts, it is planning to declare a partner in the coming year, 2021. This will aid the company in understanding its environmental footprint and will further discuss options that will lessen the footprint. They will focus on social equity and sustainable perspectives.
How can conscious consumers help?
Consumers can educate themselves. and shop smartly. However, there are further, although limited currently, options that can help decrease the carbon footprint-
Here are a few things to look out for in the packaging, the next time you shop for cannabis products –
- Hemp plastics, like the plastics produced by Sana Packaging
- Recycled plastic
- Glass ( even better if it is reusable for other purposes)
Focus on companies trying to help
If possible, try to make a priority to purchase from companies such as Ocean Cannabis Co.
This would greatly help, as these companies have already sacrificed multiple costs, only to be able to offer a sustainable cannabis product.
Raise your voice
Understanding sustainability is necessary for bigger companies such as Curaleaf. Understanding the issue of sustainable packaging, companies are more likely to try to turn them into successful business models. The same is applicable to dispensaries. The demand for such companies and their products will only further ensure the availability of them.
The cannabis industry is far from solving the plastic problem entirely. However, an increasing number of companies are trying to explore options and think about sustainable solutions. So, the next time you go cannabis shopping, try to look for more eco-minded cannabis brands in your locality. Even if you come back empty-handed, make sure that you’re local dispensary is aware that you and your money are looking for better options.
An Overview of Oklahoma State Laws for Marijuana in 2020
Oklahoma recently made some changes to their state laws concerning marijuana. The new policies change some of the existing laws for consumption as well as the use of marijuana. The original bill Bill HB 26126 was primarily passed in March 2019. In this article, we’ll take a good look at the new changes concerning marijuana possession and usage in Oklahoma state.
It’s good to see Oklahoma keeping their laws up to date. Marijuana is an amazing frontier but it comes with its own problems. The states need to have a robust and well-thought-out framework for implementing marijuana laws. Otherwise, negligence can lead to serious loss. With the recent US election, one thing is pretty clear, its that the public image of marijuana is changing and legalization is going to spread.
Coming back to the new amendments the new laws state that individuals with a medical marijuana license can have about 8 ounces of marijuana at home. In-person people can carry up to 3 ounces of marijuana. In terms of marijuana concentrates you can only carry up to 1 once. Moreover, People can not have more than 72 ounces of edible marijuana on them. In terms of owning marijuana plants, individuals can have only six mature marijuana plants or six seeding plants.
The possession of marijuana without a state-issued medical license remains illegal. In Oklahoma, having more than 1.5 ounces of marijuana on you can lead to a misdemeanor charge. This leads to a fine on the person however there is no jail time. The state still allows for marijuana consumption in private, however, smoking marijuana in public is still a crime.
Overview of Marijuana Laws in Oklahoma:
Oklahoma has an interesting set of laws concerning cannabis. Some of these laws vary drastically from some of the neighboring states and even the laws across the border in Canada. These laws are pretty strict giving a feeling that marijuana is still a controlled substance in the state.
Oklahoma laws allow for marijuana use in certain defined medical conditions. The rules of the medical marijuana program in the state are pretty vague. The law enforcement authorities have made the laws pretty confusing for the general public leading to fewer signups for the medical program. It is an ongoing debate between the state authorities and will get better with time.
The laws state that individuals without a medical license are subjected to a fine if they have 1.5 ounces or less of cannabis. In addition, for possession without a medical condition, the penalties are worse than just a 400$ fine. However, the confusion begins with the Oklahoma district law on decriminalizing the possession of low-level drugs. This leaves the law enforcement authorities as well as the public confused as to which law to follow. The state law enforcement says that they follow older laws that allow for arrest on possession. In other words, according to the current Oklahoma laws, it’s just up to the law officer whether to arrest you or fine you.
Oklahoma strictly prohibits the recreational use of Marijuana. Oklahoma sticks with their previous laws besides many states opting to legalize recreational use. However, there are no longer any criminal charges for marijuana possession. After the State Question 7890 that went into effect in July of 2017. All of the marijuana charges in the state of Oklahoma are misdemeanor charges. It doesn’t matter how many times an individual gets convicted there will not be any criminal charges in this case.
Oklahoma also has a Tax Stamp law for those charged with marijuana possession. People accused of owning marijuana have to buy a special stamp issued by the state of Oklahoma. This stamp is then placed on the contraband. The per gram tax stamp rate is currently $3.50. In case someone does not comply with the tax stamp law they face a penalty that is 200 times as severe as the tax stamp rate.
The Rules of Possession:
In addition to the law on possession of medical cannabis, the new laws also let residents appeal for expungement of previous conviction records. Moreover, the recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in Oklahoma. you can’t possess or grow marijuana without a medical license. Moreover, medical users are also limited to certain CBD products.
The state laws only allow for using CBD products for medical use. Any CBD product containing less than 3/10 of a single percentage of THC. THC is the psychoactive element in marijuana responsible for the high. lesser percentages mean less psychotic effects on the user.
Driving with Marijuana in Your System:
Oklahoma laws clearly state that any instance of driving under the influence is punishable. The punishments vary with the severity of the offense. The H.B. 1441 law governs the punishments in case of an individual who has a Schedule 1 controlled or chemical substance in his or her body when driving a vehicle. The punishment is jail time for a minimum of 10 days and upwards of an entire year or longer.
The Oklahoma law clearly identifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug just like federal laws. This means even severe punishments like property seizure in case of involvement in charges relating to marijuana. In addition, people convicted of driving while having marijuana in their system have their license suspended for up to three years.
Transporting and Export of Marijuana:
Since public possession of marijuana is illegal you can not transport it within the state. Anyone caught transporting marijuana will face charges described above. People Smoking marijuana in a vehicle will also face punishments similar to those of driving while consuming.
Since cannabis is illegal in federal territory exporting cannabis out of the state of Oklahoma remains illegal. It is also illegal to send marijuana to a state by mail even if that state has legalized marijuana.
There are a few things wrong with Oklahoma’s implementation of cannabis laws and we must talk about that as well. Laws are not very public friendly. One argument that the government has on this topic is that they want as many people as possible away from recreational use. However, the vague implementation also hurts the experience for people genuinely in need of medical cannabis.
Proper law enforcement is also important. The concerned authorities must remove any ambiguities in present laws as well as any duplicate laws. enforcement is an important step in legalization and lawmaking. Proper enforcement will ensure public compliance as well as fewer illegal users.
The State Laws for Marijuana are the next important step to take after passing the vote for legalization. They are of utmost importance and determine the future of cannabis in the set. It is therefore important that newer states working on legislation implement laws derived from the examples of states that have done it before.
Overview of Marijuana Laws in New Mexico
New Mexico, also known as the Land of Enchantment, is a state located in the southwestern region of the USA. It was 47th to join the union in 1912, after which it became the fifth-largest state in the U.S.A area wise. When marijuana was slammed with a legal prohibition during the 1920s in the country, New Mexico followed suit and banned it in 1923. Since then, marijuana laws in the state have undergone quite a few significant changes.
Here is an overview of marijuana laws in New Mexico and their current legal standing in the region.
Marijuana usage before the legal ban
Up until the early 1800s, marijuana was pretty much a legal drug within the United States. Although its recreational usage was not a very common idea, it was widely used for medical purposes. In addition to this, it was used to make everyday products like ropes, clothes, canvas, sacks, and many other things.
It might be hard to believe today, but in 1619, not growing hemp was considered illegal in areas like Virginia, Massachusetts, and even Connecticut. This was because the plant was considered extremely resourceful. Later on in the 1700s, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, South Carolina, and North Carolina were granted special licenses to promote hemp cultivation and production.
Surprisingly enough, many political personalities of the United States had also cultivated hemp in the past. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin are among them.
Reefer Madness overshadows benefits of Marijuana Plant
Starting in 1906, cannabis was typecasted as a poisonous drug. Its out-and-out prohibitions began in the 1920s following the Mexican Revolution.
Most marijuana advocates believe that the legal ban had more to do with racism than its psychoactive effects. According to Tommy Chong, “Marijuana prohibition has been a racial law right from the get-go. It followed the path of the Chinese opium law. Britain actually almost ruined China with the opium trade and so America, when they wanted to demonize a race of people, they would outlaw their habits – that’s what prohibition was all about. Prohibition was just basically a racist law.”
Therefore in an attempt to stigmatize Mexican’marihuana’ users, the drug was officially outlawed state by state in the U.S. Reefer madness took over the news, movies, and television after which medicinal benefits of the plant were forgotten. The propaganda against it was very strong and successfully associated with violent behavior, rape, and even murder.
New Mexico Moves Ahead towards Reforming Marijuana Laws
In 1978, New Mexico became the first-ever state to acknowledge the medicinal value of marijuana after decades of prohibitions.
The move was strongly motivated by the efforts of Lynn Pierson, a cancer patient who died during his struggle to gain legal access to medical marijuana. Having endured a lot of suffering during the course of his chemotherapy sessions, he found solace in marijuana. “A few puffs of pot took nausea away. And there was hardly any vomiting. Then I got really hungry. Hell, I ate so much I actually gained some weight,” he said.
It was due to his efforts that the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act was passed with an overwhelming majority. Governor Jerry Apocada signed it as an ’emergency legislation’, setting the bill as a model for at least 30 more states for upcoming years.
Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act
In 2007, honoring the memories of Lynn Pierson and Erin Armstrong (another cancer patient and advocate of marijuana legalization), medical marijuana was legalized in New Mexico.
The legislation was entitled ‘ The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act’ and established a system of marijuana usage under the regulations of NMDOH. The system aimed to provide patients legal access to the Medical Cannabis Program of the state. It made adults aged 18 or above qualifiable to receive medical marijuana if they had certain ailments. A list of 28 medical conditions was prepared that included eligible medical conditions. Some of them include:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
- Cervical dystonia
- Crohn’s disease
- Epilepsy and seizure disorders
- Hepatitis C
Later in 2018, the state’s biggest city, Albuquerque, decriminalized the possession of 1 ounce (28 grams) of marijuana. Any amount above it was a punishable offense causing a fine of $25. These marijuana laws were further revised in 2019, whereby possessing up to half an ounce (14 grams) led to a $50 fine instead of jail time. Patients are allowed to possess up to 8 ounces (277 grams) of marijuana over a three month period.
As of now, patients can only obtain medicinal marijuana from state-licensed non-profit producers. Unauthorized distributors, users, or sellers are liable to face criminal prosecutions and penalties.
Cannabis Oil exports from Australia reach Germany
When it comes to cannabis oil exports, Germany ranks fourth in the entire world as per the official figures reported in 2019. This translates to a monetary value of about $230 million and represents around 8% of the total cannabis oil exports of the world.
If that wasn’t enough to reflect the potential of the cannabis industry in Germany, it is noteworthy that the country is also one of the largest importers of cannabis oil in the European Union. It stands only next to the United States and Israel in this list, with total imports amounting to approximately $240 million.
Germany expands its cannabis trading partners
This week, the export ties of Germany further expanded to include Australia as a trading partner.
As a result of this partnership, a shipment containing cannabis oil exports from the country just arrived in Germany earlier this week. The merchandise was exchanged between WA based Little Green Pharma and CC Pharma in Germany. The shipment contained around 2400 units of medical cannabis oils that were valued at $600,000.
Managing director of Little Green Pharma Fleta Solomon considers this trading partnership as a huge achievement. He believes it is going to offer opportunities to Little Green Pharma to establish itself as a ‘key-exporter’ of medicinal cannabis oils into Europe. According to him, this is further going to establish the confidence of the European market in Australia’s locally grown medicinal cannabis.
He further added that “With our expanded cultivation and manufacturing facility, LGP is well-placed to ensure consistent supply to both Australia and offshore markets in the future.”
The products will be batch-tested over the course of this week and will be released in the German market later on. This will mark the end of a 22-month long period that was served in extensive legal formalities, licensing, quality checks, audits, etc.
In addition to this, Little Green Pharma will also be supplying products to DEMECAN in Berlin. According to reports, this partnership is going to relate the two countries for the next three years. During this time, approximately 48000 units of medical cannabis oil products per year will be exported in Germany.
Germany’s Cannabis Market
According to research, about 84.1% of Germans support the legalization of cannabis in some form. The country has seen a spike in demand and tried to accommodate them through imports.
According to BfArM, most of the imports (flowers) are for pharmacy dispensing. This means that they are usually re-exported to other European countries like the Czech Republic and Italy.
Currently, there are about 60,000 registered patients in Germany who are depending upon cannabis products for treatment. This number is expected to increase further as an expanding percentage of physicians is now considering prescribing medical cannabis. The scope of these ailments includes arthritis, epilepsy, and inflammation, and various other problems. After 2020, the amount of locally produced cannabis is not going to be sufficient for meeting demands.
Without sufficient products to meet local demand, Germany has to depend upon imports. Most of this shortage is created as a result of bottlenecks in the legal framework. These cause delays in licensing and permits for stakeholders and create various other problems. Producers, cultivators, and retailers have complained of a lack of support from the government, which greatly discourages new investment.
German Parliament Still Opposes Legalization
Despite this lucrative growth of the local industry, the country has still not legalized adult-use cannabis in its territory. The reasons for this delay in policy reforms are difficult to interpret.
Laws surrounding the industry are pretty confusing for its local residents. While there is no written law prohibiting its use, possessing over ‘small-amounts’ of the drug can lead to incarcerations. Once again, the definition of small amounts is not legally defined. If a convict is lucky enough, the law enforcing agencies might let them go with a warning. In other cases, arrests can be up to 1 to five years long.
The cannabis industry of Germany was in the news last month due to the rejection of a legalization bill. The bill had proposed legalizing adult-use cannabis but was rejected sternly by the parliament.
Although the bill had a significant level of suppor, it was rejected due to a coalition between two parties. It was formed between The Union and the SDP, putting them in a clear majority.
Due to this clear majority, any proposal that goes against the ideology of this coalition ends up facing the same fate as the cannabis bill.
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