Marijuana companies are struggling to increase sustainability

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The marijuana industry has been advancing faster than rules can keep up

According to research by Cone Communications, 70% of millennials indicate that they would pay more for products that are made sustainably. Additionally, 83% stated that they consider the social or environmental impact of a product before making a purchase. While this is great for the environment, it becomes apparent that millennials are not able to find sustainable solutions in the marijuana industry.

Many jurisdictions across the country have not been able to keep up with the explosive growth of marijuana in creating regulations. For example, in some locations, building and energy codes obligate marijuana cultivators to use more energy than necessary in order to meet those codes. Indoor cultivation uses very little water; however, it is the most energy-intensive cultivation method. Many residential and commercial business codes don’t take into account the unique requirements of marijuana cultivation and some systems that have been designed to improve HVAC efficiency now require marijuana growers to invest in advanced air filtration and dehumidification systems in order to protect their investments.

Labeling requirements in states are also cause for some concern. In Washington State, for example, a single-serving edible must include two caution logos, a handful of warnings and information about the product and licensees. This results in more packaging than is truly necessary to be able to distribute the products.

Massachusetts is very strict on its product labeling requirements. The co-founder and CEO of KushCo Holdings, Nick Kovacevich, points out that labels must contain the “producer’s name, registration number, telephone, mailing address and website; the name of the product; the quantity of cannabis contained in the package; the amount of THC; a list of ingredients, including the cannabinoid profile; the date it was produced and its expiration date; plus seven other pieces of information. After that, each label also must include a 49-word warning statement, some of it in all caps.”

Many cannabis companies have proactively started to find ways to become more sustainable, including the use of hemp-based packaging, pushing for QR codes in lieu of the amount of data included on labels and innovative ways to cultivate their products in order to be more environmentally friendly. However, they cannot introduce all the changes they would like as long as state and city regulations lag behind and force them to adhere to certain practices that are counterproductive to better sustainability.