Climate change vs. cannabis – how does it look like around the globe?
In the world, especially USA, the cannabis industry has grown exceptionally fast. As such, attention is focused on the health effects of marijuana use, potential tax revenues, and what decriminalization means for drug policy. However, most do not pay attention to the environmental impact of the cannabis industry.
Here the example of cannabis’ impact on the environment is from the USA. In Colorado, the industry accounts for 1.3% of the state’s total annual carbon dioxide emissions, according to the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment.
Why is this happening?
Cannabis grows indoors. This is for several reasons, including safety, year-round growth, and quality control. However, it turns out that indoor hemp production is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Lights and other devices that maintain the right conditions for growing indoors consume a lot of electricity. Cannabis plants want to grow in a warm and humid environment, regardless of blizzards or heat waves outside, so they need heaters or air conditioners to keep them warm. Producers also pump carbon dioxide indoors to accelerate photosynthesis and plant growth.
However, the highest energy consumption comes from the constant supply of fresh air to plants. It is because the ventilation is essential to drive photosynthesis and prevent pests and molds. This is because cannabis photosynthesize much faster than a typical houseplant. Sun-grown, greenhouse and even West Coast warehouse pots could then supply cannabis consumers nationwide, much like California farmers supply 90% of the country’s strawberries and tomatoes now.
In the case of the USA, conditions vary from state to state, and the best growing conditions are naturally in California. Currently, however, there are restrictions on the transportation of cannabis products between states. Still, there is a clear chance for reform to minimize the carbon footprint of the burgeoning cannabis industry. The Biden administration says it is serious about fighting the climate crisis.
For Europe, here you can read an article how cannabis cultivation can contribute to the European Green Deal, if managed correctly.