A New Study Highlights The Environmental Impact of Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation

The TDR Three Key Takeaways regarding Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation and Environmental Impact of Cannabis:

  • According to a new study, outdoor cannabis cultivation may significantly lower the environmental impact of growing cannabis.
  • The study does not fully consider the regulation and harsh weather challenges.
  • The study suggests increasing outdoor cannabis production and adopting eco-labeling could reduce the environmental footprint.

A study available on Science Direct seeks to understand the environmental impact of growing cannabis. The study, “Greener Green: The Environmental Impacts of the Canadian cannabis industry” provides insights into this issue, especially in Canada. In some ways, the study is early, as current Canadian Federal Cannabis Legislation and the weather require highly secure indoor cannabis facilities, but it is interesting to note the findings. 

In contrast to outdoor cannabis cultivation Indoor cannabis cultivation is highly productive but uses a lot of energy due to heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. The carbon footprint varies by region. Colder areas need more heating, leading to higher emissions, while warmer areas use more electricity for cooling. The study looked at six environmental factors: carbon footprint, fossil fuel use, metal depletion, acidification, and water pollution. Alberta has the highest emissions from indoor growing due to its cold climate and reliance on fossil fuels for heating. British Columbia, with its milder climate, has lower emissions.

Outdoor cannabis cultivation reduces costs and emissions since it uses less HVAC. However, it brings challenges with pest control. In British Columbia, outdoor production has only about 10% of the carbon footprint of indoor production in the same area. The study calls for standardized methods to measure the carbon footprint of cannabis production and suggests eco-labeling to guide consumers. It also recommends industrial symbiosis, where cannabis growers use CO2 emissions from nearby industries, to reduce environmental impacts. Eco-labeling can help consumers make environmentally friendly choices. This can improve industry transparency and accountability, benefiting both the environment and communities.

The Canadian cannabis industry, while economically promising, has significant environmental challenges due to energy-intensive indoor cultivation. Moving towards more sustainable practices, like increasing outdoor cannabis cultivation and adopting eco-labeling, can reduce the environmental footprint. Standardizing carbon footprint measurements and promoting the use of CO2 emissions from other industries are crucial steps towards a greener cannabis industry. This study highlights the need for ongoing research and policy changes to ensure the cannabis industry can grow sustainably, balancing economic gains with environmental care.

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