As companies apply for Recreational Marijuana licenses (also known as “Adult Use Permits”) across Maine, many are becoming aware of the regulations associated with hazardous waste. While marijuana plants, trimmings, and other plant matter are not in and of themselves considered hazardous, often the material is soaked in flammable, toxic, or other inherently hazardous materials and will require hazardous disposal services.
Extraction of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) oils, when using a solvent, often produces a hazardous waste in solid or liquid form. Common solvents, like ethanol and butane, are considered hazardous waste because they exhibit substantial or potential threats to public health or the environment. Butane, for example, has a low flash point and is considered a flammable liquid.
Solvent Extracts vs. Solvent Free Extracts
A solvent extract from cannabis produces concentrates by using a variety of chemical or organic solvents to pull THC from the trichrome heads of the plant. Concentrates that use solvents will almost always produce hazardous waste. Solvent extracts include:
- BHO (Butane Honey Oil)
- “Terp Sauce” (HTFSE – High Terpene Full Spectrum Extract & HCFSE – High Cannabinoid Full Spectrum Extract)
- PHO (Propane Honey Oil)
- QWET/QWISO (Quick Wash Ethanol/Quick Wash Iso)
- DME (Dimethyl Ether/MZ12X/Dexs)
- CO2 Oil
All solvent extracts, at some point during production, produce a hazardous waste that must be disposed of properly. This includes the secondary distillate process of extracting cannabinoids from the plant as well.
Solventless methods, while they do not produce hazardous waste, still require proper disposal of plant matter in accordance with state regulations.
Maine State Marijuana Waste Regulation
All hazardous waste produced by manufacturing facilities, extraction labs and dispensaries are subject to regulations found in the Maine Department of Environmental Protection Rule, Chapter 850. This includes solvent soaked plant matter and materials that contain toxic substances.
Non-hazardous marijuana waste must also be properly disposed of in accordance with the State of Maine’s Adult Use Marijuana Program Rule, Section 9 – Waste Management found in 18-691 C.M.R., Chapter 1.