This story is part of our Ethical Cannabis series, which explores moral quandaries in the cannabis space and empowers readers to become conscious consumers. Got an issue to unpack? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of legal cannabis’s greatest selling points is an obvious one: It’s a plant! Smokable cannabis flower, in particular, has the shortest connection to its original agricultural state. It’s simply dried and cured buds, plucked straight from the original plant.
For folks looking for natural relief from a variety of symptoms, or casual consumers looking to kick back and relax, it’s hard to find a remedy as closely connected to the earth as cannabis.
And yet the rise of legal cannabis has also introduced a growing environmental cost:
shoddy farming practices the advent of disposable consumption methods clunky packaging mandated by law
All of this has created waste that the industry doesn’t have a good way to handle.
Here’s a closer look at how we got here, and what some brands are doing to create a more eco-friendly future for cannabis products.
The fact that the cannabis industry is so tightly regulated means that consumers are more or less at the mercy of what the legal market provides to them locally. Whatever a local dispensary chooses to sell is what a local market is going to receive.
But many consumers are seeking sustainable practices and demanding better of the companies they buy from.
“As global awareness of climate change increases, more people are learning about all the different choices they can make to do their part in combating these issues [of excess waste],” says Jed McWhorter, director of purchasing at Curaleaf, the world’s largest cannabis company.
While McWhorter acknowledges that “reducing the amount of single-use plastics is a good first step” when it comes to things