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The end of 2017 brought some updates from the Cannabis Control Commission: draft final regulations and public hearing dates and locations.

First, the draft regs are posted: As predicted, they largely defer to the yet-to-be-formed energy and environmental working group for specifics on standards for grows.

Highlights include:

  • Mandates for cultivators AND “product manufacturers” to adhere to energy and environmental standards and regulations developed by the EEWG “to reduce energy and water usage, engage in energy conservation and mitigate other environmental impacts.” The inclusion of product manufacturers is a new and positive development, since manufacturing of cannabis extracts into edibles and other products can also be relatively resource intensive;
  • Cultivators and product manufacturers shall maintain “policies and procedures to reduce energy and water usage, engage in energy conservation and mitigate other environmental impacts”;
  • A licensee may receive an Energy and Environmental Leader designation if it a) “has met or exceeded its energy and environmental impact goals for its registration period; and (b) has consistently complied with best management practices for energy use, waste disposal and environmental impact.”
  • “A Marijuana Cultivator may label Marijuana with the word “organic” only if all cultivation is consistent with U.S. Commission of Agriculture organic requirements at 7 CFR Part 205;”
  • Special reference to the need for cultivators and manufacturers to meet “water quality and solid waste disposal” standards and best management practices;
    • Liquid waste management procedures must meet minimum requirements under the Mass surface water discharge permit program;
    • Marijuana solid waste must be either incinerated, disposed in a landfill, recycled, or ground and mixed with other solid wastes;
  • Interestingly, “Marijuana Transporters shall use best management practices to reduce energy and water usage, engage in energy conservation and mitigate other environmental impacts”;
  • “Application of pesticides shall be performed in compliance with M.G.L. c. 132B and the regulations promulgated at 333 CMR 2.00, Pesticide Board.”

A few disappointments:

1) While the regulations rightfully defer to the EEWG for details on those relevant standards, they are silent on a fund to support technical assistance for energy and environmental performance. The Commission does call for a fund to support training and technical assistance for social equity, which I believe can expanded to include resource and waste issues. The Commission should call for a similar fund to support resource efficiency and sustainability that can be supported by fees paid by voluntary “Energy and Environmental Leaders” and/or financial penalties.

2) The Commission’s criteria for Energy and Environmental Leader designation could be strengthened to encourage deeper commitment to sustainability. Additional criteria could include:

  • Reporting energy use through an approved non-profit independent third party;
  • Exceeding code requirements for warehouse or greenhouse cultivation facilities;
  • Using green power equal to or greater than 50% of total annual electricity usage;
  • Tracking and offsetting at least 50% of its total annual carbon emissions; or
  • Participating in a qualified third-party program that offers a verified checklist of measures growers can take to enhance their environmental responsibility.

3) The regs do not call for the creation of a “research center of excellence” at which best practices for energy and environmental performance (among other issues) could be studied.  DOER or DEP could theoretically host such a center for issues relevant to their jurisdiction.

4) No mention of building codes for cultivation facilities.

5) Finally, I am concerned that regulations still effectively prohibit outdoor cultivation, eliminating the possibility for the lowest energy impact type of cultivation.

Please let me know if you have any other concerns that you would like to see addressed during this comment period.
If you wish to share your thoughts on the regs with the Commission you can either provide oral or written comment.
To provide oral comment, the Commission will be holding public hearings at the following dates, times and locations:
To submit written comments
  • Send comments to CannabisCommission@State.MA.US as an attached Word document or as text within the email body;
  • Include “Draft Regulations” in the subject line;
  • Include your full name and address.
  • If you are unable to send an email, you may mail submissions to: Cannabis Control Commission, 101 Federal Street, 13th Floor, Boston, MA  02110
  • All testimony must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on February 15, 2018.