I wrote an article a little while ago about the fact that cannabis plants have been found to be great for the bee population. That in and of itself means that weed is pretty great for the planet. Helping our helpful little bumbles thrive improves fruit and vegetable farming whilst also keeping all of our lovely plants pollinated. We may touch again briefly on the bees but today we are going to have a look at the other ways that farming cannabis can be good for the rest of the planet. Unfortunately, this isn’t the happy fun time article I want it to be. The truth is that this is an extremely difficult topic. Like most things, it doesn’t have a straight yes or no answer. As I start writing this might end up being a two-parter so if it is, come back next time for the thrilling conclusion. If it’s just this part then ignore that last bit because I’m not going to come back and fix it.
Indoor Vs. Outdoor
The main crux of this issue looks at how much energy is used in farming and whether or not the end result is more harmful or helpful for the ecosystem.
Obviously, indoor cannabis growing requires quite a lot of set-up because we are having to recreate the natural circumstances in which cannabis can grow. Indoor and outdoor both tend to require an enormous amount of water as most of the best countries for cannabis to grow outdoors don’t see a lot of rainfall.
Despite the huge amount of water used in outdoor growing the aspects of indoor growing are far more damaging to the planet. In fact, when we remove the lighting, temperature control, venting and other energy heavy parts of indoor growing we reduce emissions by 80%.
When we grow cannabis in large amounts indoors each kilogram of weed results in thousands of kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions. This is actually pretty similar emission levels to driving a car for a year, so definitely not great. So at the moment we are basically completely sure that growing cannabis indoors is pretty bad for the planet.
The Evolution Of Growing
Of course, where there is an ecological issue there are people trying to find a way to fix it. Indoor cannabis growing as it stands is not sustainable, but the cannabis market is growing and growing as more parts of the world move towards legalisation. In many places cannabis is not only legal to grow commercially but individually as well which could cause a rise in emissions due to household energy use. The eco-friendly growing of cannabis isn’t super far on yet but there are a number of ways that we can tackle the carbon footprint being left by cannabis growing.
As we’ve already talked about, outdoor growing is much better for the planet than indoor growing. We’ve looked at the amount of carbon dioxide that is produced per kilogram of weed and it’s not great. The best way to make growing eco-friendly is to do it in a natural setting rather than creating the surroundings and controlling the environment.
People will find the easiest and most efficient way to grow even if it’s not the best for the planet. A lack of industry standards will allow people to use as much energy as they feel necessary to grow their crops. Focusing on industry standards won’t just improve the carbon footprint of growing but will also improve the product. It won’t just be about being eco-friendly but also about ensuring that the THC levels are correct as well as the CBD standards.
In order to grow cannabis it needs an extraordinary amount of water. Therefore if we are going to make growing eco-friendly one of the first things we need to do is figure out a way to conserve water. There are already a number of ways that you can conserve water while growing weed. These include drip irrigation, putting plants closer together, deep watering, collecting rainwater and mulch.
Another great way to improve the ecological aspects of growing is to use clean and renewable energy to power the farm. Using wind, solar or tidal energy instead of fossil fuels to generate the electricity you need will immediately improve eco growing. Also used LED lights and high-efficiency HVAC equipment will make a huge difference.
I have dedicated an entire previous article to bees and weed but here is a quick overview for those who missed it. Essentially bees love weed, they are drawn to it because of the lovely sticky pollen that covers its leaves. The plants don’t harm the bees and no they don’t get high as they aren’t removing the psychoactive THC from the plant. However, because bees are drawn to weed it can potentially be amazing for the environment. Not only does it give the bees a place to thrive and create more bees but it can draw them to other items that need to be pollinated. The terrifying aspect of bees vanishing is that we need them for fruits and vegetables to grow. If you plant a bunch of weed around a veggie field this will draw in our lovely furry legged babies and help them pollinate the plants that we need to live. So this is another way that outdoor cannabis farming can be great for the planet.
Is cannabis farming currently good for the planet? Unfortunately, no it’s not. Most weed farming is indoor on a massive scale and produces a huge amount of greenhouse gases. However, as we mentioned earlier there is a lot that can be done in order to make cannabis farming more eco-friendly. We need to make weed sustainable if we are going to keep legalising it, which we definitely should. Also outdoor farming where possible is perfectly fine for the planet and gives a nice little chill out zone for bees. We definitely need to look after the bees. So I would call that a pretty big win.
Written by Tasha Porritt
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