Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

1120 SW 5th Avenue, Room 1000, Portland, OR 97204

More Contact Info

Cannabis Industry—Regulatory Requirements Guidance

Thumbnail image of fact sheetThe federal Clean Water Act requires cities to regulate industries that discharge wastewater or stormwater to the city’s sewer systems. As the city’s sewer and stormwater services provider, Environmental Services sets the pollutant limits and regulates industries in order to protect the city’s system and our watersheds. Below are some preliminary guidelines regarding Environmental Services regulatory requirements for business owners and individuals interested in the cannabis industry.

This is an overview of environmental requirements for cannabis industries as currently understood by the City. The City may impose additional requirements for businesses as more information becomes available regarding these or other pollutants of concern.

City of Portland Administrative Rules: All city code and administrative rules referenced here can be found at www.portlandoregon.gov/citycode/28148 and www.portlandoregon.gov/citycode/28044.

Cultivation and Plant Growing Operations

Cannabinoid
Extraction

Food Production with Cannabinoid Oils

Cannabis Dispensaries

Businesses growing cannabis plants for processing into consumer products.

Pollutants of Concern

This includes nitrates, phosphorus, pesticides, and fungicides.

Pollutant Mitigation Strategies

  • Control chemical use and optimize nutrients and biocides application or dosing to minimize chemical waste.
  • Eliminate sewer entry points. Do not install drains or sumps in cultivation rooms. (This may not be possible for hydroponic facilities due to high water usage. )
  • All chemicals must be stored in areas without access to sanitary or storm sewer systems or in secondary containment.

Environmental Services Requirements

  • Prohibitions–Biocides may interfere with the operations of the wastewater treatment plant. Substances that may cause interference are prohibited from being discharged to the sanitary sewer system per City rule ENB 4.03.
  • Monitoring Access Structure–Grow facilities that discharge water from grow operations to the City’s sewer system will be required to install a monitoring access structure per City rule ENB 4.35.
  • Vegetation Removal–Permits are required in riparian areas or environmental zones (more information below).

Businesses involved in the extraction of active ingredients from plant material.

Pollutants of Concern

This includes various solvents used to extract oils from cannabis plants.

  • Gaseous solvents like carbon dioxide, propane, or butane cannot be introduced into wastewater, so they are not regulated by Environmental Services.
  • Liquid solvents like hexane and alcohols are regulated. Hexane partitions in wastewater, is highly flammable, and presents a hazard.Alcohols, while flammable, dissolve in water and are biodegradable at the wastewater treatment facility. In small quantities, alcohols do not present a hazard.  

Pollutant Mitigation Strategies

Employ closed loop systems. These extraction systems minimize the amount of product and chemicals that can be discharged in wastewater.

Store all chemicals in areas without access to sanitary or storm sewer systems or in secondary containment per Portland City Code 17.34.

Environmental Services Requirements

  • Prohibitions–Hexane is prohibited from being discharged to the sewer system.
  • Monitoring Access Structure–Required only for extraction processes utilizing hexane or similar liquid solvent per City rule ENB 4.35.

This type of business must meet requirements of food service establishments.

Pollutants of Concern

  • Fats, oils, and grease can block sewers and cause sewage backups and overflows.
  • More concentrated wastewater pollutants including Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Total Suspended Solids (TSS). “Extra Strength” wastewater costs more for Environmental Services to treat. Businesses often pay increased wastewater rates, as a result.

Pollutant Mitigation Strategies

Installation and maintenance of grease removal devices per Oregon Plumbing Specialty Code and City rules.

Environmental Services Requirements

  • Grease Removal Device–Installation and maintenance requirements are outlined in City administrative rule ENB 4.26.
  • Extra strength sewer charges–Most cannabis edible food manufacturers produce confectionery goods and are billed at the same rate as confectioners per City rule 4.25.
  • Monitoring Access Structure–Establishments with discharge volumes greater than 6,000 gal/day may need to install a monitoring access structure per City rule ENB 4.35.

Similar to other retail establishments, these businesses may have stormwater management requirements.

Pollutants of Concern

Currently, there are no known pollutants of concern specific to this aspect of the industry.

Rules and Regulations–All Businesses

PERMITS–

  • Building Permits–All businesses going through development or re-development will require a permit.
  • Environmental Permits–
    Wastewater and Stormwater Discharges:
    Currently, no environmental permits are required to discharge wastewater or stormwater from cultivation or extraction facilities. However, businesses discharging pollutants that may be detrimental to City sewer systems will be required to obtain a discharge permit.

    Riparian Areas and Environmental Zones: Factory and retail sites located in environmental zones will have other restrictions about removing plants. Permits are required to remove even non-native trees. For more information, go to www.portlandoregon.gov/citycode/70093, Chapter 33.430.