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

Fraser Valley fire departments form ‘strike teams’ to combat wildfires

Boston Bar, Chilliwack River Valley and Popkum departments form strike teams to fight wildfires

RCMP nab prolific car thief in Agassiz after month-long search

A province-wide warrant was issued for Brian Robert Stephan in June for a litany of offences

Take-home naloxone may be replacing 911 calls in parts of Lower Mainland

Naloxone kits handed out up 29% over 2017, ambulance calls and emergency visits down 22-24%, deaths hold steady

New riverfront path under development

A path suitable for mobility scooters, pedestrians, cyclists and baby strollers

UPDATE: Anonymous tip leads DFO night patrol to Fraser River poachers

Charges pending after poachers arrested at night while fishing, 48 sockeye, harbour seal seized

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

Some of B.C.’s air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Okanagan, northern B.C. seeing some of the worst air quality globally

Thousands to attend funeral service for officers killed in Fredericton shooting

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

VIDEO: Ground crews keep a close eye on largest B.C. wildfire

Originally estimated to be 79,192 hectares, officials said more accurate mapping shows smaller size

Vancouver Island woman to attempt historic swim across Juan de Fuca Strait today

Ultra-marathon swimmer Susan Simmons to attempt to swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back

Canadians believe in immigration but concerned about asylum seekers: study

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada paid for study to understand Canadian attitudes

These are the highest-paid actresses of 2018

In its list released this week Forbes said all 10 earned a total of $186 million before tax

Most Read