For cannabis waste related questions, please contact Beatrice Poroli at Beatrice.Poroli@calrecycle.ca.gov.

On January 1, 2018 recreational cannabis became legal to cultivate, distribute, manufacture and sell in California. Three state licensing agencies play a part in the commercial cannabis market:

1.   Who will manage cannabis waste? How will it be managed?

Each of the three licensing agencies have their own set of regulations with different waste management requirements. You can find cannabis waste management requirements for each license type in the regulations issued by each of the three cannabis regulatory agencies. The following are links to the regulations.

2.  Do the regulations require cannabis material be rendered "unusable and unrecognizable?"

Each licensing agency has its own set of regulations with different waste management requirements. Cannabis cultivators, processors, and nurseries licensed under CalCannabis are not required to render their waste unusable and unrecognizable. Entities that manufacture cannabis products and are licensed under MCSB, and the testing laboratories and retail stores that are licensed under Bureau do require it.

3. I would like some general information on how to dispose of cannabis waste that is not composted onsite.

Cannabis waste is considered organic waste if it is not combined or contains any hazardous or toxic material. The law considers organic waste a type of solid waste that can be composted on-site by licensees of CalCannabis and the Bureau in accordance with Title 14.

For cannabis waste not composted on-site, the cannabis regulations include requirements about who may haul cannabis waste and to what type of solid waste facility they may take it.  See answer to question one for links to the waste management sections for each license type.

4. How does a dump or transfer station begin accepting cannabis waste?

The law considers cannabis waste to be a type of organic waste if it is not combined or contains any hazardous or toxic material. The law considers organic waste to be a type of solid waste, and a solid waste facility may handle and manage cannabis waste in accordance with Title 14 and Title 27.

5. Can my local approved hauler of municipal solid waste and green waste pick up cannabis waste?

Yes, the law considers cannabis waste a type of organic waste, and haulers can transport and recycle it like other organic waste. Effective January 1, 2019, any business that generates four or more cubic yards of solid waste per week must recycle its organic waste. Cannabis cultivators that generate four or more cubic yards of organic waste per week must either compost on-site, self-haul to a facility that recycles organic waste, or have it picked up by a hauler that recycles organic waste.

6. What kind of license would a business need to handle cannabis waste and how would they obtain the license? How is this different from a processor license?

Since the law considers cannabis waste a type of organic waste, no special license or permit is required at the state level to transport it.  However, there may be some requirements at the local level so you should consult your local government. If you would like to operate a solid waste facility, you should contact your Solid Waste Local Enforcement Agency (LEA).

A cannabis processor, on the other hand, is a business who dries, cures, grades, trims, stores, packages and/or labels non-manufactured cannabis products. Cannabis processors are licensed by CalCannabis. If you have questions regarding Cannabis cultivation, you should contact CalCannabis.

7. Does section 8108 (C) of the Regulations for Cannabis Cultivation allow licensed cultivators to haul cannabis waste in a private vehicle to an approved facility?

The regulation allows a cultivator to self-haul cannabis waste to any of the following:

(1) A manned, fully permitted solid waste landfill or transformation facility;
(2) A manned, fully permitted composting facility or manned composting operation;
(3) A manned, fully permitted in-vessel digestion facility or manned in-vessel digestion operation;
(4) A manned, fully permitted transfer/processing facility or manned transfer/processing operation; or
(5) A manned, fully permitted chip and grind operation or facility.
(6) A recycling center as defined in Title 14, Section 17402.5(d) of the California Code of Regulations and that meets the following:

(A) The cannabis waste received shall contain at least ninety (90) percent inorganic material;
(B) The inorganic portion of the cannabis waste is recycled into new, reused, or reconstituted  products which meet the quality standards necessary to be used in the marketplace; and
(C) The organic portion of the cannabis waste shall be sent to a facility or operation identified in subsection (c)(1) through (5).

Be sure to follow all of the waste requirements set forth in sections 8108 and 8308, and track-and-trace requirements regarding cannabis waste in sections 8402-8405 of the CalCannabis regulations.

8. If a solid waste facility wants to accept cannabis waste, what requirements do they need to meet?

The law considers cannabis waste to be a type of organic waste if it is not combined or contains any hazardous or toxic material. The law considers organic waste a type of solid waste, and a solid waste facility may handle and manage it in accordance with Title 14 and Title 27. Direct questions regarding solid waste facility requirements to your Solid Waste Local Enforcement Agency (LEA).

9. What will the state require in the Waste Management Plan if a cultivator is composting less than 100 cubic yards and 750 square feet of organic waste and does not qualify as a composting facility?

The information required for the Waste Management Plan is the same regardless of the size of the compost area.  You can find the requirements of the Waste Management Plan for cannabis cultivators in section 8108 of the CalCannabis regulations. Section 8308 provides additional waste management guidance. A guidance document on the Cultivation Plan, of which the Waste Management Plan is a part, can be found on the CalCannabis website.

10. Which Department should I talk to regarding cannabis cultivation inspections for licensed cultivators?

Direct your questions regarding inspections of cannabis cultivation operations to CalCannabis or call 1-833-CALGROW.

CalCannabis investigators conduct inspections of cultivation operations throughout the state. Please note that the investigators may contact the cultivator in advance, or they may arrive to conduct an inspection unannounced.

11. Are there any current state cannabis regulations that address the on-site composting of non-hazardous cannabis waste at a licensed cultivator?

There are different types of composting activities defined in Title 14 CCR, Division 7, Chapter 3.1. Some are regulated by the State and some are not. A small- scale on-site composting that is under 750 square feet and 100 cubic yards is not subject to the State composting regulations. If you have any questions, regarding which type of composting activity your operation is subject to, you should contact your Solid Waste Local Enforcement Agency (LEA).

12. In section 8108 of the regulations issued by CalCannabis, it states that we are required to compost our cannabis waste or have it collected or self-hauled. For the compost on-site requirement, a licensee shall compost in compliance with Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations, Division 7, Chapter 3.1 (commencing with section 17850). Is cannabis waste from cultivation an agricultural material or a green material?

The cannabis waste generated by a cultivator is considered agricultural material. Note that agricultural material, as defined in Section 17852(a)(5) and that meets the definition of “green material” as defined in Section 17852 (a) (21), may be handled as either agricultural material or green material. There are different types of composting activities defined in 14 CCR. If you have any questions regarding which type of composting activity your operation is subject to, you should contact your Solid Waste Local Enforcement Agency (LEA).

13. Do LEA staff need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when doing inspections of composting, transfer/processing, or landfill facilities receiving cannabis waste?

You should follow the health and safety protocols established by your department.

14. Does a business that is required to recycle organic waste also have to recycle cannabis waste?

Yes. The cannabis regulations define cannabis waste as “organic waste” if it is not combined or contains any hazardous or toxic material. Cannabis licensees must manage waste in accordance with all applicable laws. The law considers organic waste a type of solid waste, and a solid waste facility may handle and manage it in accordance with Title 14 and Title 27. Effective January 1, 2019, any cannabis licensee that generates four or more cubic yards of solid waste per week must either compost on-site, self-haul to a facility that recycles organic waste, or have it picked up by a hauler that recycle organic waste (solid waste means the total of trash, recycling and organics). For more information regarding AB 1826 please visit the FAQs.

15. As a solid waste facility operator, what license is required to accept and render cannabis material “unrecognizable and unusable” at my solid waste facility, or does the Track and Trace system end after it enters one of the five approved types of solid waste facilities?

There is no state license required for a solid waste facility owner or operator to receive cannabis waste. Cannabis waste received at a solid waste facility or operation should be handled as solid waste. It is the responsibility of the cannabis licensee, not the solid waste facility operator, to ensure that the cannabis waste is rendered unusable and unrecognized, pursuant to the regulations.

In addition, solid waste facility operators have no Track and Trace responsibility. Track and Trace requirements are the responsibility of licensees within the regulated cannabis industry.

16. Are there requirements under the cannabis licensing regulations to report to federal agencies the receipt of cannabis waste at a permitted solid waste facility?

There is no requirement in any of the cannabis licensing agencies’ regulations requiring a solid waste facility to report the receipt of cannabis waste to a federal agency.

17. Are we allowed to post signage that prohibits the disposal of any Cannabis waste at our permitted solid waste facilities?

There are no requirements in Title 14 or Title 27 that a solid waste facility operator accept a particular waste type. It is the operator’s discretion to accept or to not accept cannabis waste at their site. Title 14 and Title 27 require that if the site is open to the public, the facility operator must post a list of the general type of materials that will and will not be accepted at the site.

18. What are the thresholds for determining hazardous waste for cannabis?

Cannabis waste must not be hazardous as defined in Public Resource Code Section 40141. For questions regarding the specific threshold for this material, please contact the California Department of Toxic Substance Control.

19. What happens with diseased or otherwise disqualified (composted, sterilized, or held for inspection for a certain time) cannabis product?

Cannabis products that cannot enter the legal marketplace due to failed testing or disease should be handled/disposed of in the same manner as other cannabis goods slated for disposal. The affected licensee should follow the regulations pursuant to waste management for their specific license type.   

Cannabis waste received at a solid waste facility or operation should be handled as a solid waste.

20. Can a cannabis farmer till the cannabis waste back into the soil?

 Yes, cannabis waste can be tilled directly into agricultural land.  

21. What is a locally approved hauler?

A locally approved hauler is one that is either under contract with a city or county, and/or has a permit, license, or some other authorization for the city or county in which it is operating to collect and haul waste within the city or county.

Authorization to haul in one city or county does not allow collection and/or hauling in another city or county.

22. How should cannabis cultivators store cannabis waste on-site? 

Cannabis waste must be placed in a secure waste receptacle or in a secured area on the licensed premises. A lock can provide additional safety, but the waste area is not required to be locked. Physical access to this area must be restricted to the licensee, employees of the licensee, and the local agency or company providing hauling services, if applicable. Public access to this area shall be strictly prohibited. 

23. Can a cannabis cultivator self-haul cannabis waste to a dumpster at a local grocery store?

No, cannabis cultivators can only haul their own cannabis waste to one of the facilities listed in the regulations (see question seven).

24. As a cannabis cultivator, what type of documentation do I need from the hauler if I have my cannabis waste picked up?

You will need to obtain and retain the following:

  • Name and address of local agency or company name of business providing hauling services,
  • Name of primary contact person and phone number,
  • A receipt/invoice from the hauler that confirms they are providing hauling services for your cannabis waste.   

25. As a cannabis cultivator, can I feed my cannabis waste to my chickens and pigs?

No, cannabis waste must be handled in one, or more, of the following ways:

(a) On-premises composting of cannabis waste;
(b) Collection and processing of cannabis waste by a local agency, a waste hauler franchised or contracted by a local agency, or a private waste hauler permitted by a local agency;
(c) Self-haul cannabis waste to one or more of the following:

(1) A manned, fully permitted solid waste landfill or transformation facility;
(2) A manned, fully permitted composting facility or manned composting operation;
(3) A manned, fully permitted in-vessel digestion facility or manned in-vessel digestion operation;
(4) A manned, fully permitted transfer/processing facility or manned transfer/processing operation; or
(5) A manned, fully permitted chip and grind operation or facility.
(6) A recycling center as defined in Title 14, Section 17402.5(d) of the California Code of Regulations and that meets the following:

(A) The cannabis waste received shall contain at least ninety (90) percent inorganic material;
(B) The inorganic portion of the cannabis waste is recycled into new, reused, or reconstituted products which meet the quality standards necessary to be used in the marketplace; and
(C) The organic portion of the cannabis waste shall be sent to a facility or operation identified in subsection (c)(1) through (5).

(d) Reintroduction of cannabis waste back into agricultural operation through on premises organic waste recycling methods, including but not limited to tilling directly into agricultural land and no-till farming.

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