Glaring Gap in Cannabis Act

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Canada is about to embark on a legal cannabis industry, but, without strong environmental regulations, that industry could have devastating effects.

Elsewhere the energy and water draws have been taking an environmental toll, in addition to plastic waste from retail packaging. Deliberations on the Cannabis Act, Bill C-45 have so far included little about environmental impacts.

Environmental and cannabis organisations want cannabis to be a sustainable industry, jointly calling for strong environmental regulations in the Cannabis Act.

So far little of the deliberation around Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, has been about environmental standards, yet elsewhere, industrial expansion of this industry is taking a heavy toll. Large-scale cannabis operations draw incredible amounts of energy and water, many use pesticides that degrade water and soil, and retail packaging can create tonnes of plastic waste.

Nola Poirier, a writer and environmental researcher, and Rielle Capler, a cannabis researcher and advocate, developed a brief for Canada’s Standing Committee on Health (HESA) who are running the legislation process.

Twenty-five environmental and cannabis organisations from across Canada signed on to endorse the brief, calling for HESA to “take action on this important issue, call witnesses to speak to it, and to develop strong regulations that will create cannabis as a sustainable industry from the ground up.”

“Canada has an incredible opportunity, and an ethical duty, to develop and apply best environmental practices across this industry,” says Poirier. “We want meaningful standards in place before bad practices create environmental problems, and before infrastructure developments make it more difficult to change.”

“With the development of Canada’s Cannabis Act, we have an opportunity to design triple-bottom-line accounting across all aspects of the sector,” says Capler. “It is our duty as a nation that values the environment, to establish legalized cannabis as a truly green industry.”

Capler and Poirier also started a petition where the public can call for making cannabis a truly sustainable industry: https://you.leadnow.ca/p/envirocannabis

Read our brief: https://www.ourcommons.ca/Content/Committee/421/HESA/Brief/BR9074801/br-external/CaplerRielle-e.pdf