The Technical Note “Cannabis Waste Management In The Context Of Medicinal Cannabis Production Activities” – Cannabis & Hemp


Portugal: The technical note “Management of cannabis waste in the context of production activities of cannabis for medicinal purposes”

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The technical note “Management of cannabis waste in the context of cannabis production activities for medicinal purposes” was published on February 8, 2022. This note was jointly developed by INFARMED – Autoridade Nacional do Medicamento e Produtos de Saúde, IP (Portuguese National Authority for Medicines and Health Products) and APA – Agência Portuguesa do Ambiente, IP (the Portuguese Environment Agency). The manual is available here for consultation (in Portuguese).

It has become necessary to establish a legal framework to manage cannabis waste, including its classification, transport and treatment. This need arose from the particular conditions of the activity and the characteristics of this product. Moreover, the specific laws on the use of cannabis for medical purposes, including the most recent Law 33/201 of July 18, do not define anything in this regard.

In this briefing note, we will highlight some issues that we consider essential:

  • Waste must be classified according to the nature of the activity generating the waste, in accordance with the European List of Waste (“LEF”) published in Decision 2014/955/EU. Therefore, cannabis waste produced from different economic activities will be subject to different rules. Examples of specific LEF codes that should be used depending on the type of activity and waste are given below. However, this list is not exhaustive and other classifications are always possible.

  • According to a basic principle of the general waste management framework (Regime Geral de Gestão de Resíduos – “RGGR”), the waste producer is responsible for ensuring the treatment of the waste. This must be done by sending the waste to a treatment operator duly authorized for this purpose. It is possible to consult a list of waste treatment operators through the platform of the Waste Management Operations Licensing Information System (Sistema de Informação de Licenciamento de Operações de Gestão de Resíduos – “SILOGR”), available on the APA website.

  • Cannabis plant waste can be sent to one of the following destinations: composting, anaerobic digestion, direct agricultural reclamation, landfill or incineration. Here, the principle of the hierarchy of waste applies and, according to this principle, recovery operations must be preferred to disposal operations. Accordingly, the landfill and incineration options will only be used in exceptional cases.

  • In turn, waste cannabis extracts, preparations and medicines should be sent for incineration, and these wastes should be properly packaged in sealed containers with tamper-evident labeling. The packaging is only opened when the waste is incinerated and this in the presence of a witness identified by the producer, who certifies under oath that all the waste delivered has been destroyed.

  • An ancillary obligation is to submit data on managed waste to the Integrated Electronic Waste Registration System (Sistema Integrado de Registo Eletrónico de Resíduos – “SIRER”). These records must be kept for at least three years and made available to the competent authorities upon request.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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