Wasted Weed: Canada’s Disposal of 3.7 Million Pounds of Cannabis Since 2018

Oversupply has been a real issue for the cannabis industry. Solutions, anyone?

In 2022 and the first half of 2023, Canada went through a whopping 611.7 million grams (yeah, that’s 1.3 million pounds) of cannabis dried bud, but not in a fun way. All of the marijuana in question was tossed out by licensed producers as the result of a disparity between how much is grown and how much people use. 

They chucked out nearly 44% more than the 425.3 million grams destroyed last year. According to Health Canada, the reported figures actually only account for the weight of destroyed unpackaged cannabis. This indicates that the total volume of cannabis waste in Canada, including products that had already been packaged, could be much higher, perhaps well exceeding 2 billion grams.

Industry expert and consultant Farrell Miller notes that the majority of this discarded product was destroyed for being too old and having too little THC. “There is no demand for old and low-THC products, so manufacturers of finished products are not buying this biomass as inputs,” she said. “It’s likely low-quality material with no value. “As consumers become more savvy with packaging dates on dried cannabis products, this trend will only continue.”

If the destructive pattern continues at the same alarming rate from July to December 2023, it could mean that Canada’s cannabis industry has already hit the apex of its supply-demand mismatch. So it’s trying to move towards a balance, as wasteful as it is (not to mention awful for the environment). Canada may be the first big nation to legalize adult-use weed back in 2018, but we know now that Canadians aren’t smoking enough to keep up with the supply. MJBizDaily estimates that more than 1.7 billion grams (3.7 million pounds) of unsold and unpackaged dried flower have been thrown out. And this number doesn’t even include the packaged products. Approximately 24 million packages of cannabis products have also met the same fate since 2018.

After Canada legalized recreational cannabis sales, there was a surge in licensed producers excessively cultivating the plant. As a result, from 2017 to around 2020, right before the pandemic hit and during the cannabis stock boom, the focus of analysts and investors was more on the potential production volume promised by cannabis companies rather than on their actual sales figures. This motivated licensees to invest heavily in giant greenhouses. However, the model was not sustainable. These vast cultivation areas generally fell short of delivering the premium, high-THC cannabis that consumers were seeking, highlighting a significant gap between production output and market demand.

Marie Sweeney, a cannabis team adviser at Cannabis License Experts, a consultancy based in Ontario, has also noted that the slew of weed business shutdowns in the industry is part of why they’re destroying so much herb. She notes that bankrupt companies are often forced to get rid of any unsold products if they are not sold off prior to the expiration date of their federal permits.

As per MJBizDaily, Sweeney also says that the new labeling standards for high-THC products are a major issue. While plenty of cannabis users understandably want strong weed, this creates a market surplus of lower THC but still quality cannabis flower. Plenty of wholesalers have policies of rejecting products with less than 20-25% THC. Furthermore, Sweeney points out that many companies don’t have effective business models. These are all problems made worse by the fact that there’s just a rampant overproduction of cannabis.

So what about a solution to this heartbreaking problem of wasted weed? Miller suggests that the Canadian federal government should seek methods to align public policy and regulatory activities more closely with provincial regulators and cannabis license holders. “There haven’t been any limits placed on issuing licenses, and that is contributing to the oversupply,” she said. “If there was more of a national coordination effort, that would give the federal government more insight into what is actually making it onto the shelves in stores. Only the federal government licenses production – and the provincial and territorial governments manage retail – so a more coordinated approach within the industry, among the provincial and federal governments, would help manage the oversupply of licensed products.”

She adds that those who have cultivation licenses must find a way to grow cannabis that meets minimum THC requirements if they want anyone to buy their product. “Retailers and wholesale suppliers across the country have adapted to consumer demands by purchasing primarily high-THC products,” she said. “Licensed growers and manufacturers have accumulated trim and biomass that cannot be sold or created into high-impact products, (meaning it) is often destroyed. Improved oversight, data sharing, and communication between the federal government and retailers across the country would help control the production of excess cannabis by balancing production with consumer demand.”

  1. That’s silly. I can grow indica heavy couch lock skunk that’s 16% thc, and some fruity head high sativa that’s 25%, and the skunk will be gone first. Every single time. Going by thc content is stupid AF.

    1. I also paid for a subscription and never received a single magazine! I may have been ripped off by you people but it won’t ever happen again! I’ll never purchase another high times subscription again! I’ll make sure that I write plenty of reviews on Google so no one else gets ripped off.

      1. I somehow doubt your story. If you contacted the office of High Times, they will for sure make sure you get the subscription you claim to have paid for. Something must have gone wrong. Have a smoke, calm down and contact them.

    2. And 16% is trash for indica, if it’s not 25% or higher, it’s not a true indica. 25% take two puffs and you’re golden. 16% you need 2 grams just to feel something for more than 15 minutes, that’s nothing for someone who smokes every night before bed!

      1. I think that you’re incorrect about the percentage theory. Everyone has a different brain chemistry, so you can’t say that a 16% Indica is not going to be strong. I’ve smoked 16% THC-A strains of Indica, and have been blown away compared to some 30% THC-A Indica strains that I’ve tried. I get really good medical cannabis, so it isn’t that I’m getting garbage flower. It really just depends on the person and their reaction to different strains. So, it IS NOT TRASH, as you say. I always used to go by the percentage. I have an extremely high tolerance. And, don’t get me wrong, I always look to buy higher THC content when purchasing my cannabis. But, I found out over time, that I can get really high off of some of the mid-teen’s percentages. I just wanted to set that record straight, no offense meant. We all have our own opinions. I just want to wish you a Happy and Hazy Day, my friend! 😉🌱💨💨😎✌🏼

    3. Why are we not using this to make medicinal FECO? Or full spectrum cannabis oil? Lie THC isn’t a problem when you make this by putting the plant matter in grain alcohol, then using the extracted oil for treatment of severe pain, nausea, cancer and other conditions. I’m paying $20 a GRAM from my medical producer. Instead of wasted weed, make medicinal FECO.

  2. Stop growing dirt weed and selling it. Ontario dirt weed stores more like it .Give as the chronic wheelchair and narcotic weed back.

    1. Absolutely, Michigan has ok prices but still a little high. But karma is a bitch, you sold it too high, so now you gotta burn your extra profit, haha! The way of the world, everybody gets what’s coming

  3. I thought High Times went out of business, turns out they were sold off… I subscribed to your magazine in 2020 and never got anything. A Reddit search shows this continues to happen to people. Why are you charging for a product you don’t provide?

  4. If it’s the quality of that crap in the picture I say burn all of it now! That should never get into somebody’s lungs ever!

  5. High Times is a Joke . In the 70’s we were growing seeds brought back from Vietnam ( Thailand) and Afghanistan. Anyway high times had was promoting a guy named Ed Rosenthal . Read his first books when he didn’t have a clue about weed ( one chapter wanted you to wash your Mexican pot). This was a time when High Times was promoting Colombian gold ( we called it Colombian mold). Me and Brother was growing killed afghan in the 70’s in Kansas!! People would buy it til you smoked it with them then they were believer’s ( if they could find the front door ) . I could go on forever about this subject.

    1. Apparently you never had any real Santa Marta Gold. Of course in Kansas, you probably never did and had to grow your own. The Afghani and Thai were excellent too. Here in Florida, we have always had great weed. Plenty crap available also.

  6. Crazy stuff and so simple when so far as a solution to this problem so easily and viable already exist in our current general supply and demand markets and established ways. In short, everyone appreciates a deal and a half lol, I’m certainly more then absolutely positive that if upon closing in on an expiration date dealers express a good deal like, buy two get one free even buy 3 get 2 free thus 5 fir the price of 3 and for those who bite within the firsf 3 days upon seeing this advertusement that as a response if they buy then and there fhey can get a better deal thus bringing in customers at very good deal interest only to further secure thdy buy by hitting them with an ever so much better deal like this, buy three get three free deal extravaganza lol, even start off with buy big numbers and weights like casinos do lights snd machines thst draw people in. Only speak weed lol, say discounted pounds, quarters at 40% off, half pounds at 50% or full at, etc…. that alone would secure that the dealers would not lose in nearly so much as they do losing it all and if upon expiration all is sold at that or other discounts, who don’t like a deal. Put it at the front of each store or page online. Uou cam bundle it by for instance, add expired or notsofresh bunt wraps, zigzag and or surplus items like grinders, roll tables, etc… in package deals to avoid loss in any of these products. Any pot head be they smoking dirt or gas gas lol, will still apprecisfd a ND love an extra shout put of love in the fashion of a tossed in quarter ounce or so for their discount in pocket, purchase of lets say, buy 4 items today and u get an 8th for free, buy 7 items in total to get a quarter ounce for free only throw in an 8th of this Close to expired weed and an 8th of another closely expired weed. Buy 12 items and get a half in such fashion and seal ways of business, add the right packaging and front of store or page advertising with maybe right bundle deal n I’m sure much more money could’ve been saved and most importantly made. Shit giveaway as in raffles donations, sponsor high time games at college compasses and offer such as winnings man I can go fir days do contact me if you need help

  7. But also, yes I’m sure compost, edibles and or recycling of said compostable items could’ve gone towards a benefit as opposed to tossing them out, even alternative medicines, my peoples mother’s and grandmothers used to infuse older weed into our rubbing alcohol Ike idk cbd or something and some people have such a low tolerance they look for light weight shit, man mic it into tobacco joints or sell as that diet weed shit lol

  8. It’s not thc percent the matters most really It’s your turpentine this is why for example everyone loves purple punch at 18 percent tops and not triple chocolate chip at 28 percent and sativa have more different turps than indica It’s the turps that give you energy or make you sleepy not thc percent something every smoker should know but don’t lol

  9. Seriously.. make edibles, fat cannabiodol extractions, or Alcohol THC extractions… all very simple and easy processes. A 10 year old could do it.

  10. Wasted?!?!?!? Just tossed out?Grrrrrrrr!!!! There are a million uses for low THC weed. I’m rolling over in my hammock over mindless industries not taking full advantage of product. Do you know much good you could do for people with what they’ve wasted?

  11. This seems like a Elon Musk brainchild…🥴. The problem is people don’t have access or the rights to grow the best weed. You need to get licensed from the major seed houses (Greenhouse Seeds, Sensi Seeds, etc) to grow their high strength product. The government should buy seeds from these parties and them resell them to growers.

  12. No, the real problem is that they are not paying their growers enough for them to really give a shit… You get 4 dudes to take care of 10,000 plants and only pay them $15 an hr? And expect them to give you a quality product? I bet some of those guys are pissing in the nutes, and hoping that those plants die, so they don’t have so much to take care of for, 15 freakin’ bucks an hour… Gimme a break…

    1. No matter what, there is going to be waste. Smart growers and producers don’t throw that away. They make cannabis oil. Full spectrum cannabis oil even uses the roots of the plant. Everything but the seeds can be used. I take it as medication daily. I suffer from a very serious illness that would otherwise put me in a nursing home. I only wish that these growers and producers, along with the government, would realize we’re out here and paying a premium for this stuff. There is no reason to waste this stuff. If the government wants to give me a few pounds I’ll make my own.

    2. My point is the same….the companies and growers can not grow the real gear from seed houses because they won’t pony up the $$$. So what the consumer is left with is some bunk hybrid bullshit mixed with wild type cannabis. It also questions the growing method…they don’t want to pay $30 a seed because it’s uneconomical…in a sog with plant producing only a couple ounces. If they were to grow the plant to it’s potential it would produce pounds per plant not ounces. This is where the government should step in….goes along with regulation about non toxic stuff as well…hell the government should only allow seeds from them to be grown (resell). ..also lessons the environmental impact. PLEASE don’t puss in my weed….😉

  13. Make medical cannabis oil. Whole plant with grain alcohol to make it edible. The results of that process can change lives

  14. Why not give it to people for free?!? I don’t know the laws in Canada very well, but cannabis should NEVER be wasted!!! It helps the society in places where it is used. Crime goes down. Use of illicit drugs like Fentanyl, Crack, Heroin, etc… goes down 👇🏼. People are Happier, in general, when they use cannabis, daily. 😁😎 Give that beautiful gift of nature out to those deemed old enough!! 😉💚🌱💨💨💚

  15. The Money Spent ie on Growing is Not Equal to the Amount Spent on Buying.
    We all know it’s cheap and easy to grow good weed.
    Why would I buy your high dollar bud when I can grow it myself. If you want me to buy your bud then you need to have a product that will justify me purchasing vs growing.
    Because you make it legal does not justify you robbing me.
    One of the few times I did go to a dispensary, they asked me, hey Man what do you think? I said I imagine it’s what it must feel like getting Robbed In Broad Daylight. There is no bud on this earth that is worth 400 a Z. 400 an Lb is closer to what it should cost you from a Mass Producer ie Super Grows.

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