This article is reproduced courtesy of Hooked Up In Seattle which features blog posts on adventures in the new legal cannabis world
Shortly after the opening of recreational marijuana stores in Washington, I had my first experience with sungrown cannabis at Herbal Nation in Bothell. Having eagerly awaited them stocking something besides the standard Blue Dream, I made my way to Bothell as soon they received shipment of some new strains. Upon choosing 2g bags of Alice in Wonderland and Ultra Lemon Haze, I took noticed of the name of the farm on the packaging. Cannasol Farms, it said, as well as the words "Okanogan Sun Grown". That was the first time that I really gave any thought about indoor vs outdoor grown marijuana (a few months earlier I was just happy to be able to get something from my father-in-law), but from then on I started noting which brands were sungrown, and found out that most of them are not.
To this day, if you ask me what's the best cannabis I've had, I would surely mention San Juan SunGrown's Green Crack as potentially the best energetic Sativa. I used to joke around and say that the power of the San Juan Island sun came through to your soul upon toking on those buds. David Rice, Master Grower and co-founder of the SunGrown Certified Committee, used organic practices to grow his Cannabis. And while my love of San Juan SunGrown turned to heart break after they had to close down, the principles of clean organic sungrown Cannabis are very much alive.
I tell these stories to give you a glimpse into how much I've enjoyed the sungrown cannabis I've gotten hooked up with. From my roughly 1 year experience with this new cannabis market, I would say that there is no difference in how high you get from indoor vs outdoor weed. A connoisseur might argue that clean sungrown tastes better. Someone looking for centerfold weed could argue that indoor grown looks the nicest. But you can't argue that indoor production is much more energy expensive, so much so as to be potentially unsustainable as the industry matures.
Cannabis is Earth's Best Friend...
Cannabis is the best plant for the environment in every measurable way. Cannabis takes in more CO2 as trees, so growing outdoors helps clean the air. When grown as Industrial Hemp, it produces 4 times the amount of materials per acre when compared to trees for wood based products or cotton for textiles. When planted on the ground, it heals the soil it grows on better than any other plant. It can even be used toremove radiation and heavy metals from soil (so for medical use the soil should be clean). Houses made out of Hempcrete take in CO2 even after they are built. It can be used to produce oils for personal care products and plastics without the need to use petroleum based materials. It can be use to produce fuel, and there is new research into hemp batteries. There are even companies like Renew Sports Car that are making whole cars from hemp. Finally, hemp protein is a complete protein, meaning it contains the 8 essential amino acids.
While most of these benefits will not be seen from a medical/recreational outdoor grow (for example, many grows put their plants in pots, not on the ground), there is no question that outdoor grows are much better on the environment as indoor grows... much, much better.
...But Not When Grown Indoors
When grown indoors, cannabis requires a tremendous amount of energy to grow. A single gram of cannabis may require as much energy as driving 17 miles on your Honda Civic. It is estimated that the lights used to grow 4 plants take about as much energy as running 29 refrigerators. A 2011 study found that indoor cannabis cultivation makes up 1% of energy use in the United States, a number that has surely risen by then as large scale recreational grows opened up in legal states. It has impacted Colorado so greatly, that it is feared that a 45% growth in power consumption due to indoor cannabis cultivation will cause the state to miss it's climate change targets. This is especially ironic when it is this species of plant that we need most to combat climate change itself, and like all plants nature makes it grow for free by the power of the sun.
Call To Action
We know the time is is now to act on the environment, and as individuals we must at least start choosing what is best for our planet whenever it is practical to do so. If that means choosing a sungrown brand over an indoor brand, then that is an easy choice.
Growers - I encourage indoor growers to consider going sungrown. One way to help might be to process flower grown at a separate farm that uses the sun. Always look for more efficient technology. Your operating expenses are at the mercy of the power company, and that is a big liability. Expending production is a lot easier when you need to add a new greenhouse rather than build or find another warehouse. The lowest and most reliable way to control your cost of production will be by going sungrown, as shown by Aphria in Canada among others.
I502 stores - I encourage you to stock more sungrown products - and your budtenders should know if a particular farm grows indoor or outdoors. I recently took a tour of shops in Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR looking for sungrown cannabis. One budtender in old-town Vancouver literally replied with "What is sungrown?" when I asked him if he had anything sungrown. I had to explain to him that I meant something grown outdoors in the sun rather than in a warehouse... At a well-know shop in Portland that has some gorgeous looking buds, I was mistakenly sold a brand as being sungrown when indeed it was not (at least the brand is Clean Green Certified and will go sungrown next year). On the other side of the spectrum, props to Harborside Health Center Portland for not only carrying great sungrown Cannabis, but letting me know at the door of the great sungrown specials they had going on.
Consumers - I encourage other customers like myself to start going sungrown. The first question you should have is not what the THC percentage is, harvest date, or especially not what cartoon bear is on the packaging. When Cannabis (hemp) is absolutely a necessary part to combat climate change, let's make sure our recreational use of the plant is "green" as well. Therefore, the first questions should be: is this farm sungrown or not? Second, what if any pesticides where used growing this?
Myself - Now I know that completely cutting out indoor grown cannabis is about as practical as making sure you never eat high fructose corn syrup again. This is especially true if you want to buy edibles or vape cartridges, as I know of little sungrown options there (ironically, it is even more important that the cannabis is clean when used to make concentrates). Sometimes I might be looking for a quick pre-roll and the shop I stop in may have no sun-grown options. There are some great strains that have not yet made their way out of the warehouses. But increasingly, I will choose sungrown brands over indoor ones, frequent the stores that carry these brands, and fill my stash with the Northwest's finest sungrown.
About The Author, Gillman Rose - Ever since the opening of legal recreational marijuana shops in Washington state, I’ve become a bit of a connoisseur of cannabis. Gone are the days when I just smoked whatever I could get, never even knowing the difference between Sativa vs Indica. Now I and anyone over 21 can have their pick of strains and grower. It’s amazing watching this industry come to life, and I’ll be sharing my experiences here with you.