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It is 2021, and more people are consuming cannabis than ever. States are legalizing medical and even recreational weed. However, as the industry grows, it is important for users to consume consciously as larger businesses capitalize on the market.
But consciously consuming cannabis focuses on more than just environmentally-friendly brands; ethics and values are a huge factor. From the smallest of changes to the largest, a few steps put people one step closer to being more ecologically-friendly users.
5 Ways to be a More Conscious Cannabis Consumer
1. Shop at Companies That Support Local or Small Farmers
Farm-to-table has become a grocery store standard by providing customers the best quality foods and vegetables directly from nearby farmers. In the cannabis industry, this not only allows for organically-produced cannabis, but it also supports local growers that are often struggling with big corporations.
More states are legalizing medical and recreational use, and that’s fantastic! Greed, however, isn’t great. But quality over quantity is the motto for local growers. Consumers can ask the budtenders at their local dispensary about their policies on supporting small farmers.
2. Find a Company Whose Values Align with Yours
Many organizations have their mission statements and values stated proudly on their website. From supporting legacy farmers and nonprofits to donating proceeds to charity, consumers can buy from companies that best align with them.
Never compromise one’s values for weed. The industry has tons of dispensaries that support local businesses, give back to the community, and are committed to equitable social causes. The industry may be growing, but its past is still showing. For example, according to the Last Prisoner Project, there are 40,000 people incarcerated for cannabis-related crimes; many of them are Black men.
Nonprofits such as the Last Prisoner Project have a page dedicated to its ambassadors, corporate sponsors, and donations by time or money. Customers can contact their local dispensary for more information about the companies and nonprofits they support.
3. Zero Waste and Recycling Programs
Zero Waste stores are here, and they’re thriving. They may be for food and body products, but dispensaries implement these ideas for a waste-free environment, too. Curaleaf, a dispensary in New York, for example, gives its consumers a reusable bag on their first visit. If they bring the bag back, they get a discount. Who doesn’t like a bargain! Discounts encourage low waste to pave the way for zero waste.
Additionally, TerraCycle — a waste management company — has Cannabis Packaging Zero Waste Boxes available for purchase. On TerraCycles website, they “created a zero waste solution for used and empty cannabis packaging purchased from licensed retailers.” Dispensaries collect the recyclable material that is then shipped off and recycled into new plastic. Customers can ask the budtenders if their dispensary is a part of this program, or encourage them to join similar efforts.
4. Support Businesses Owned by People of Color
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) highlights that Black people are four times more likely to be arrested for cannabis. The Latinx community is also at a higher risk of incarceration. While it’s good to support small businesses, the majority of them are owned by white men.
Whether it’s an edibles company or a dispensary, supporting businesses owned by people of color is essential. Small contributions give to the community that is impacted most by over-policing and high incarceration rates.
Ensure purchases support equity business. There are several resources, including online directories, in the cannabis industry and beyond, that spotlight minority-owned businesses. For example, Emerald’s Conscious Consumption Series highlights more than 400 Black, Latinx, Indigenous and Asian-owned cannabis companies.
5. Support Sustainable and Environmentally-Friendly Practices
Another option for consumers is to support companies that use sustainable packaging. For example, one company that provides such packaging for the cannabis industry is HiSierra. HiSierra creates kid-safe alternatives from sugarcane fibers.
HiSierra isn’t the only company using sustainable packaging, Sana Packaging, Sun Grown Packaging, and FunkSac have all implemented child-proof, eco-friendly containers, according to Pretty Lethal Designs. Consumers can find out more information by going directly to their websites to support them.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. But remaining conscious about one’s consumption habits over time can decrease environmental footprints and increase awareness. Changing the way one consumes cannabis can translate to other daily sectors.