When thinking about protecting the environment and stopping carbon emissions, most people do not think about how cannabis farms fit into the equation.
However, the problem becomes clear when considering how these farms work. The cannabis is grown indoors, in controlled environments, which use massive amounts of electricity in order to function properly. In other words, these farms also play a part in climate change, not just the issue of cannabis consumption.
A study has estimated the fact that in order to grow one plant of marijuana in a controlled environment such as the ones created by the farms, requires energy equivalent to 70 gallons of oil, in order to grow. Furthermore, the energy demand of Colorado’s biggest farm grew by 2% after marijuana consumption became legal.
In essence, it would be perfectly safe to assume the fact that as cannabis consumption is legalized throughout the country, and the demand grows, farms will expand and use increasing amounts of electricity. This could affect the efforts made by the US in order to get carbon emissions under control.
While the industry has already started to look for ways of growing the plants by using less electricity, the fact that the amount of energy that goes into these farms is equivalent to the emissions of 3 million cars is frightening.
The fact that the cannabis industry is slowly moving towards large-scale cultivation may require some innovative ways of using renewable energy, in order to avoid damaging the environment any further.
Solar energy, batteries, and alternative fuels would be effective in lowering the energy use of cannabis farms.
A company in New York has already started integrating these technologies. Scale has managed to lower its energy consumption by 35% by using the methods mentioned above. They are redirecting the excess heat produced by the generators in order to fuel the air conditioning system.
JP Marting from GrowX has come up with a prototype for an aeroponic growing system that uses less energy and water than the hydroponic one. Furthermore, this system also eliminates impurities that would normally be found in the soil.
However, even with the development of energy-efficient LED lighting, advanced sensors, artificial intelligence networks, and high-efficiency electronics, there is the possibility that indoor farming may become too energy-expensive.
There are also farmers that have found efficient, natural ways of growing their crops.
Waterdog Herb Farm in Mendocino County, California, grows its harvest outdoors, on a 160-acre homestead. While most consider that marijuana grown indoors is usually more potent, the Californian company has noted the same quality of the crops. Also worth mentioning is the fact that the farm is off the grid and draws its power only from renewable sources.