Indoor marijuana production has an ugly environmental footprint. The average marijuana user may not be aware of this. But they should be.
Numbers vary by region, but a reasonable estimate is that about a half-ton of coal (or 400 pounds of natural gas) is required to produce less than one pound of marijuana. There’s something seriously wrong with that.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can grow smart and sustainably, and Washington State should lead the way on this. Fortunately, there is something you can do about it.
Ask for sun grown marijuana by name
Washington’s recreational system isn’t perfect, but it’s a good start. Now you can know where your cannabis comes from and how it was grown. You can purchase a product that matches your values.
The best way to do that is to demand sun grown marijuana. Buy it when it’s available. When it’s not, encourage retailers to seek it out and stock it regularly. Educate your favorite local shops on the merits of sungrown if they are unfamiliar. Once the demand is made clear, more growers will go organic.
Another way is to express yourself. Go to Weedmaps or Leafly and leave good reviews of organically-grown buds. Use those forums to educate other users about the benefits of sun grown, and the healthy, high quality marijuana it produces — without the outrageous carbon footprint.
With sun grown, you can at least know that massive amounts of electricity weren’t used to power lights, air conditioning, and humidifiers, and that the CO2 released is minimal compared to indoor grows. (Washington is lucky that so much of our power comes from hydro, and is inexpensive to boot, but think of states more reliant on fossil fuels.) But that doesn’t go far enough.
The marijuana industry needs organic labelling
We wrote about Clean Green Certification in a prior post. That’s a good model to follow for now. But what is also needed is a USDA-backed organic labeling program, similar to what is now used for food. (Since marijuana is illegal according to the federal government, marijuana farms can’t currently go through this process.) This sanctioned, third-party certification means customers are assured that the marijuana was produced in an environmentally responsible way. It also sets high standards for farms to follow.
Indoor growing will be with us for the short term, but it’s not a good long-term approach to production — especially as more retail shops open in Washington, and other states vote to legalize. Let’s show a better way while the industry is still brand new.
So ask for sun grown by name. And spread the word.