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With every action there is a reaction and the action of legalizing marijuana has created an environmental crisis. If you were to buy 3.5g of cannabis today it would come with at least 70g of plastic that will live in a landfill for thousands of years. Multiply that by the amount of cannabis users in this country and that is a lot of plastic our future robot overlords will have to live with. Today we look at why marijuana containers are bad for the environment. 

What’s the Big Deal?

Marijuana plastic in trash

There are some out there who believe that just chucking your little white bottle into a big blue box will be the answer. Unfortunately not everyone does that and maybe I don’t want my neighbours catching a glimpse of my whacky tobacky container. I have a hard enough time being judged by my peers due to my weekly tire-bon-fires on the front lawn. 
Tire Fire
Every Tueday!

All cannabis must be packaged specifically to meet government regulations. These regulations don’t leave a lot of freedom to be creative. I’m sure a company would love to create a package out of cheese but that won’t fly. As delicious and biodegradable as that sounds that would be very illegal.

The wasteful plastic is not the only environmental concern. Like that “oil is good” video your Uncle from Alberta keeps posting on Facebook explains, fossil fuels are in everything you love. The harm of wasteful packaging is compounded by the process of making the plastic which is from oil. 

If the cannabis industry is actually allowed to solve this problem it can have ramifications for all industries. The industry is new so that is why there is a bright spotlight on it at the moment. It can be easy to say “A lot of products use plastic for packaging so what’s the big deal?”. The big deal is, that is not a solution and this is why we will have robot overlords in our future.

Children Are To Blame

Like most of society’s inconveniences children are to blame. The governments regulations responsible for wasteful packaging comes down to protecting children. If you want to buy weed legally then it’s going to come in this mini plastic vault so little Johnny doesn’t steal your stash. Don’t worry about your cigarettes or that box of wine in the fridge. Those have been legal for centuries and Johnny should know that.

Yes marijuana is legal but why is it still slapped with this stigma that it’s more dangerous? A wine bottle with a twist off cap and a cardboard box full tobacco are not hard to access. Should they be? Maybe but not if it causes an environmental crisis. 

This comes down to the stigma that marijuana is still a dangerous drug but it’s legal now. So being inside a giant plastic mini-vault with bland labelling makes it ok. Cigarettes got rid of the labelling but a child can still rip open a pack and smoke like a champ. That box of wine has a little button to make a waterfall of wine. Thank goodness the weed is in a giant fat pill bottle.

Responsibility is the best child proof method. The stupid twisty cap is a last line of defense but can’t we think of another way? That way you can stick it to your oil loving Uncle in Alberta.

Who’s Doing Something About It?


This cannabis company has partnered with TerraCycle a New Jersey based company that is all about recycling. Dispensaries around the province would sign up with Tweed in order to receive a recycling box. All empty containers are shipped to TerraCycle where they melt down and re-use the plastic. Last year TerraCycle reported that they received over 30,000 lbs of plastic from cannabis alone. This probably not an ideal long-term solution but it’s certainly a start.


Nitrotin is a packaging company that has partnered with cannabis growers such as Freedom Cannabis which is based in Alberta. 

They offer an aluminum solution instead of sticking to that non-sense plastic. According to their website:

The purpose of Nitrotin is to provide packaging solutions designed for product quality, consumer safety and environmental sustainability. We are taking applied science from the food industry and implementing it into the Cannabis Industry. 

Elevate Packaging

This is the greenest company I’ve seen when it comes to packaging. Based in Chicago, IL Elevate Packaging offers compostable pouches for an assortment of cannabis products.

Their pouches are made from recycled material and manufactured using wind energy. I guess they’re in the right city for that.

As far as I can tell I could not find any child safety devices but the pouches do have zipper mechanisms. They don’t have to be for just cannabis the pouches can be used in the food industry as well. In fact they have a feature for vacuum sealing which would be fantastic for food storage.

All their products claim to be biodegradable so they are very environmentally conscious.

Should we be optimistic?

As of today the federal government of Canada announced that they will outlaw single use plastics like bags or straws. Will cannabis containers be held to that same law? How about pill bottles?

There’s no question that plastic contributes to an environmental crisis. If you haven’t seen the video of the straw being pull out of a sea turtles nostril it is truly heart breaking. Plastics are harming our oceans and wild life. Plastic is even in our poop and how the heck did that happen? Humans consume 5 grams of plastic a week which is the equivalent of a credit card. 

If there is reason for optimism it’s not in the technology or innovation for new biodegradable material. We can solve this problem but we have to get past greed and corruption. Our governments have to pass laws and twist the arm of large corporations to give a damn about our planet. We can vote everyday not just on Election Day.

Vote with your wallets. Comment on websites or send emails to your favorite dispensaries and tell them you will only support them if they stop using plastic containers. When it’s time to vote, do your research and choose the candidate that gives a damn about our planet.

Otherwise our only hope is that our future robot overlords will enslave our descendants to clean this mess up.

Lit Rhino dot caVape

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