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

Ladysmith Cancer survivor not giving up fight

Kim Angell grows from advocate and blogger to the face of national campaign

Dave Hutchison knocking down creative barriers to wilderness photography

Island photographer sharing his keys to better pictures at Ladysmith Camera Club session

Port of Nanaimo chairwoman chosen federal Liberal candidate

Michelle Corfield on leave of absence from port authority during potential byelection period

Cultural experience makes an impact with Chemainus Secondary students

Many lasting memories and friendships from exchange trip to the Northwest Territories

Defiant vigil starts healing in New Zealand after massacre

Police say the gunman in the shooting that killed 50 acted alone

National Arts Centre spotlights Indigenous and female artists in upcoming season

Other musical offerings include a salute to Canada’s Indigenous composers

Travel expected to be slowed by fallout from fire at Toronto’s Pearson airport

All U.S.-bound flights from Terminal 1 were cancelled Sunday night after the fire broke out near a security checkpoint

Trudeau fills vacancy in cabinet with B.C. MP Joyce Murray

Murray, 64, was elected in 2008 and served previously as a minister in B.C.’s provincial government

Leivo nets shootout winner as Canucks edge Stars 3-2

Schaller scores first 2 goals of season for Vancouver

UBC study shows honey bees can help monitor pollution in cities

Scientists analyzed beehives in high density urban areas to those off on Galiano Island

Most Read