The cannabis industry is in a unique position. With many laws and regulations to consider that most other industries are not concerned about, cannabis manufacturers, growers and dispensaries have a lot to worry about to operate in compliance.
However, even with the various legal challenges that are unique to this field, corporations involved with the cannabis industry also need to handle the basic aspect of compliance that any other type of company would need to deal with. With the possible exception of tax law compliance, environmental health and safety regulations represent the most demanding area of law for any company to follow.
Recent cases in the cannabis industry
A recent article in JDSupra online explore the increase in cases involving environmental compliance problems surrounding the cannabis industry. According to the article, federal and state environmental regulators have been bringing more violation charges against cannabis companies in recent months than they have in the past.
The article lists a few specific examples of violations that include
- Transportation and dumping of hazardous waste, with a $45,000 fine and more than $26,000 in restitution costs
- Volatile organic compound (VOG) emissions without a Clean Air Act permit, worth almost $18,000 in fines
- Another landowner in California facing more than $680,000 for various environmental violations
With the types of fines and serious penalties that come with these violations, cannabis companies should add environmental health and safety regulations to their lists of important compliance authorities to consider.
What we can learn from this report
The most important takeaway from the JDSupra article is that no industry is immune from environmental health and safety regulatory requirements. The fines and penalties noted above, while all going against cannabis companies, were not unique to cannabis industry activities. These are basic, “bread-and-butter” environmental compliance regulations to which every company needs to comply.
There was a time when cannabis companies and the authorities regulating their industry were focusing on industry-specific issues and not paying that much attention to the environmental compliance issues. But it looks like those days are over. Companies engaged in any aspect of cannabis need to also take great care to make sure they remain in compliance with the relevant laws regulating the environmental health and safety of our country.