Well, fam, I gotta say I am getting pretty damn sick and tired of seeing people suddenly singling out indoor cannabis cultivation as some unsustainable suck on Mother Earth’s teet… I mean, look around…
Everywhere you look, things are lit. Always. All day. All night.
Unsustainable? Absolutely, if this trend continues. But it is naïve to lay the blame on the benevolent cannabis plant when virtually everything we consume is contributing to that suck.
These days, most of the complaints about indoor cannabis cultivation are about electricity use.
With legalization comes new markets, then investor money, then buildouts of massive indoor grows to fuel the market. When you start to get around or over 100 lights indoors, electricity use will obviously be substantial, but the fact of the matter is that no so-called ‘essential’ regulated cannabis market can meet consumer demand without competent licensed indoor growers involved.
Yes, most sungrown / outdoor cannabis plants will grow larger and yield more weed than their indoor counterparts, but outdoor cannabis farmers only get one harvest each year and it should sell fast once it is ready. Any sort of setback (the potential for which is ever-present on a cannabis farm) disrupts not only the farmer but the entire supply chain.
It is also important to remember that just because a state has formed a taxed and regulated “legal” cannabis market does not mean that they have a seasonal climate conducive to growing the finicky plant in their climatic conditions.
This is why indoor cannabis must be embraced and protected by lawmakers.
Ironic, considering the practice of growing weed indoors was popularized by guerilla growers trying to avoid detection by law enforcement.
CANNABIS ENERGY CONSUMPTION
There is something to be said for stoner innovation, though. Many indoor growers are making the switch from HPS to LED lighting, slashing their energy consumption and saving big money on their electricity bills.
As technology advances, savvy cannabis growers will adapt right along with it.
Indoor cannabis cultivation is quite literally at the root of cannabis culture. As Emerald Triangle outdoor farmer Swami Chaitanya recently said in an interview, “People like to say that for each joint you have to drive across America 16 times to consume as much energy… well that’s bullshit. The fact is, if you grow indoors, you’re not making any bigger carbon footprint than is made for a single serving of meat. So let’s compare agriculture to agriculture, right? Cannabis is agriculture and the footprint of indoor is equal to the footprint of your hamburger… is equal to your glass of wine.”
CANNABIS WATER CONSUMPTION
It was so refreshing to hear Swami saying these things, especially knowing that he is hardly a cheerleader for indoor weed. But he is a realist. His analogy to burgers and wine is spot on, not only for electricity consumption but for water use as well.
That 1/3rdlb burger takes roughly 660 gallons of water to get to your plate and I don’t know about you, but that’s baby food, I’d eat about 2 or 3 of those at least. In fact, the average American eats 150 burgers a year, so let’s break it down.
It takes 1,799 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. This includes irrigation of the grains and grasses to feed the cattle, plus water for drinking and processing.
Producing one hamburger bun will consume 11 gallons of water, most of which is for producing the wheat which requires 132 gallons of water per pound.
Like Swami says, let’s compare agriculture to agriculture, and when you do you see that indoor cannabis sits right about in the middle of the pack compared to all other commercial crops when it comes to its carbon footprint.
Meanwhile, it is flowering into a multibillion-dollar industry, it is relieving or curing otherwise intractable ailments in people of all ages, it is offering an all-natural path out of the darkness of opioid addiction for military veterans and civilians alike, and it is pushing the envelope on bigger issues like social equity, expungement, and criminal justice reform.
So, with all due respect… get yourself a Big Mac and a box of wine and shut the fuck up.