Cannabis might be a natural product, but insatiable demand for marijuana is making the industry less eco-friendly. According to a new report, the energy taken to grow cannabis in large quantities is causing a greenhouse gas emission problem.
Artificial cannabis growing produces more greenhouse gases
Colorado State University researchers say that the $13 billion US cannabis industry is currently booming, but most of the production is indoors. Therefore, the massive electricity and gas used to run operations of indoor facilities are seriously worsening the sector’s carbon footprint. The researchers added that this problem doesn’t show any signs of slowing as more states plan to legalize recreational and medical cannabis use.
The study researchers conducted a life-cycle evaluation of indoor marijuana operations nationwide. The report analyzed materials and energy needed to commercially produce cannabis in each US county to establish the resulting emissions amount. Findings indicated that most greenhouse gases result from natural gas and electricity consumption used in cannabis growing. Power is important in the indoor grow facilities in running high-intensity grow lights, regulating grow house temperatures, and supplying carbon dioxide for accelerated plant growth.
Greenhouse gas emission in the cannabis sector an area not studied
Hailey Summers, Study leader, said that they were aware that the emissions could be large, but since they hadn’t been quantified before, they identified the area as a research opportunity. The latest study updates a past study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers. The study had considered small-scale cannabis growing operations in California. The results predate the increasing number of states following the Path of Colorado to legalize marijuana. Interestingly, over 36 states currently permit medical cannabis use, and 15 states allow recreational use.
The Colorado State University study revealed that marijuana growing emissions vary depending on the region. Most of it has to do with electrical grid emissions and local climate. Findings also indicate that growing cannabis through artificial means is detrimental to the environment compared to growing in a greenhouse or outdoors. Interestingly, indoor cannabis growing creates life-cycle gas emissions between 2,283 and 5,184 kg of CO2 per cannabis kilogram.