As legislation around the cannabis industry relaxes, it is starting to have a major impact on the economy at the national level. In fact, the US cannabis market is expected to be a $ 22 billion industry by 2022. Our own Dutch cannabis industry is harder to assess due to the semi-legal nature of operations. Still, substantial amounts of money circulate in the sector on an annual basis. But does all this business also have a negative impact on the environment? Is our cannabis eco-friendly? Amsterdam Genetics decided to explore.
Do We Smoke Sustainable Cannabis?
The industry’s growth is largely due to the versatility of its products. The cannabis industry helps many people manage pain and anxiety. The products stimulate the appetite of people undergoing cancer treatments, treat people prone to seizures, and help people deal with a wide variety of other conditions. The general public increasingly recognise use of CBD, medical marijuana and hemp. As a result, markets are booming.
Unfortunately, any industry that experiences such significant growth in a relatively short period of time will make mistakes. Consequently, critics have started pointing to research indicating that the damage the cannabis industry causes to the environment may outweigh its positives. So is the cannabis industry eco-friendly, or is lack of sustainabilty one of its main issues?
Of the 33 US states with legal marijuana use, a third is in the western United States, where water is scarce. Water use from marijuana farms remains unregulated because federal standards consider it illegal. As the industry continues to grow, the need for regulation is increasingly evident.
A single marijuana plant can consume up to six liters of water per day. A study conducted in Mendocino County, California found that a 50-by-100-foot plot with 50 cannabis plants uses 90,000 gallons of water per growing season (approximately 240 days).
In comparison, a single almond takes 3.5 liters of water per nut, and a broccoli head takes 15 liters to produce. Compared to other agricultural products, it may not seem like an overly water-intensive crop. However, at the rate of unregulated growth, it can impact water supplies for other agricultural industries.
There are ways to reduce the amount of water used in production and grow sustainable cannabis in more eco-friendly ways. Growers can control use through drip irrigation and automated water systems. There is also a movement towards capturing the condensation from dehumidifiers used in grow rooms. Filtering this water means it can be used to water plants.
As of now, most growers will not use reclaimed water to avoid damage to their crops. However, as the industry continues to develop, there is hope that this will change over time as manufacturing methods evolve.
To grow cannabis indoors, growers must create an artificial environment for the plants, which can be extremely energy intensive. Most of the electricity used comes straight from the coal grid. Production requires high wattage lamps, automated feeding machines, powerful exhaust fans, heat and air conditioning.
The cannabis industry (both legal and illegal) uses a lot of power. Estimations for 2017 clock in at some 4.1 million MWh of electricity. This equates to 1% of all energy consumption in America. The outlook for the future is a 167% increase by 2022. There is a clear need for this. industry to invest in alternative energy sources to offset energy consumption.
Installing solar panels and batteries can reduce energy consumption and pass the financial savings on to entrepreneurs. According to Solar Power World, exhaust fans, dehumidification and air ventilation are responsible for 50% of a farm’s electricity load. Investing in alternative energy sources can be unpleasant for any type of business owner due to the upfront costs incurred. However, when we look at the costs, it is clear that investing in clean energy systems will pay for itself over time.
Sustainable Cannabis Packaging
A major focus is on reducing waste in manufacturing and creating more sustainable packaging for use in pharmacies. Regulations vary from state to state, but all states require cannabis-containing products to be in child-resistant packaging.
Child-safe packaging can range from items resembling prescription plastic pill bottles to large bags with a sturdy zipper. Due to the extensive labeling required by law, the packaging may be larger than is necessary to contain the product.
Amsterdam Genetics Grip Bags
A growing challenge within the cannabis industry is the development of environmentally friendly packaging and materials. From rechargeable vape pens to biodegradable child-safe canisters, innovative companies are paving the way for new products in an effort to replace disposable and plastic packaging.
The intensive resource usage required for growth of a successful cannabis enterprise is a challenge to sustainably-minded entrepreneurs. The industry’s drive for more sustainable cannabis practices is commendable, but there is still much room for improvement. The cannabis sector, like many other lines of business, will be closely watched by the various environmental movements across the world.
Here at Amsterdam Genetics, we are proud to say that we try to do what we can to be as green as possible when it comes to your green groceries. Many dispensaries selling our products use special biodegradable grip bags. That’s a lot of plastic saved on an annual basis, but it’s also an example we set for the rest of the industry.
Growing Your Own Sustainabley Cannabis
Of course, there is a better way to make sure your cannabis is grown sustainably, and it’s very simple too. Just grow your own weed! Our grow blogs tell you how to get your your growing going. What’s more, all our cannabis seeds are of an exceptionally high quality. Growing your own sustainable cannabis isn’t just fun and educational – it’s surprisingly easy too. We have the finest genetics for rookie eco-growers right here. If you still have doubts, just check out our various easy-to-grow seeds. Imagine yourself growing your own batch of world-class weed, such as White Choco Haze, Quicksilver, or Skywalker Saga, for instance. We also have a range of seriously easy-growing autoflower strains, so have a look and try for yourself. You’ll be enjoying your very own 100% sustainable cannabis harvest soon!
As we have seen, the intensive use of resources required to run a successful cannabis business remains a challenge for entrepreneurs striving for sustainability. Luckily, you can do your share by taking some pressure off the industry and growing your own weed at home.
If you are interested in growing your own sustainable cannabis, visit the Amsterdam Genetics webshop for the highest quality feminized cannabis seeds!