Workers produce medical marijuana at Canopy Growth Corporation’s Tweed facility in Smiths Falls, Ont., on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. Licensed marijuana producers in Canada are forced to throw out thousands of kilograms of plant waste each year in what is a missed opportunity to repurpose the byproduct, growers say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Canadian pot growers say byproduct a wasted opportunity for industry

Advocates say almost half of all growth is tossed into the compost bin

Licensed marijuana producers in Canada are throwing out thousands of kilograms of plant waste each year in what some of them say is a missed opportunity to find other uses for the byproduct.

Health Canada’s destruction policy for producers makes it impossible to benefit or learn from the potentially valuable waste product, said Terry Lake, the vice-president of corporate social responsibility at Hydropothecary, a licensed producer in Gatineau, Que.

“We’re growing like 3,000 kilograms to a 108,000 thousand kilograms each year, that’s an awful lot of waste,” said Lake, who is a former health minister in British Columbia.

Lake said almost half of everything Hydropothecary grows is tossed into the compost bin.

Like its cousin the hemp plant, Lake said the stems of the marijuana plant could be used as fibre for a wealth of products like T-shirts, animal feed and housing siding.

“The stalk could be used as a reinforcer for cement, another use of hemp fibre, or could be used as insulation,” said Lake.

RELATED: Trudeau says pot plan proceeding despite calls for delay

Shawn McDougall, production manager at BlissCo, a licensed producer in Langley, B.C., said the company mixes leftover stalks, stems and leaves into its food waste compost, and must report the amount dumped to Health Canada.

“There is some great future potential stuff there, but we’re mandated by Health Canada to destroy and dispose,” said McDougall.

Lake said Hydropothecary has to undergo the same process.

No one from Health Canada was available for an interview.

McDougall and Lake said most of the plant material underneath the flowered buds, such as leaves, stems, and stalks, all have negligible amounts of THC, the active chemical ingredient found in marijuana plants.

McDougall said for years when marijuana was unregulated in California and Oregon personal growers would juice the leaves and stems of the plant, turning them into a beverage.

BlissCo CEO Damian Kettlewell said juicing is just one of the applications they would like to develop after legalization in Canada later this year, along with distilled marijuana resin, commonly known as shatter.

“We are in the process of doing research on edibles and on vape pens, and then we anticipate there will be other high concentrate and high THC products like shatter available as well,” said Kettlewell.

McDougall said none of the company’s plants are sprayed with pesticides.

While purchasing cannabis from a licensed dealer will become legal in the coming months, people waiting to buy legalized edibles and other products will have to wait longer.

Health Canada has said edibles and specific concentrates will be legalized no later than 12 months after the Cannabis Act comes into force.

Lake said Health Canada is likely overwhelmed with the pending marijuana legislative changes, but it is only be a matter of time before the agency reverses its policies on the potential benefits to be found in byproducts from marijuana plants.

“I have every confidence that in the future they’ll look at how we can utilize what is now just a waste product into something that’s useful for Canadian society.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

ORCA continues push for track upgrade at Ballenas

Running association official plans to meet with MLA on Thursday

Government looks for public input on Cathedral Grove safety concerns

Port Alberni, Parksville info sessions invite public to help ‘shape future access’

Little Qualicum Cheeseworks cheese linked to 5 E. coli cases in B.C.

People are asked to throw out or return ‘Qualicum Spice’ cheese

Gas prices on Vancouver Island to drop six cents

But a ‘volatile’ market could lead to increases in the coming weeks

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

Cowichan school district defends lack of notice to parents following elementary student arrest

Officials with School District 79 stand by their decision not to send out an alert.

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Island Corridor Foundation optimistic about restoring rail service

If green-lighted, first priority would be Langford to Victoria route

Most Read