Now that cannabis is legal in many states, it may be the case that pot users and investors think that cannabis is environmentally friendly, but it is not! Growing marijuana indoors takes an enormous amount of electricity, water, and chemicals. In other words, growing cannabis is energy-intensive and unfriendly to the environment.
Evan Mills writes in Slate, that a Colorado Study looked at the cannabis industry and found that this industry emits more carbon dioxide emissions than the coal industry. The environmental consequences of growing pot in national wildlands have been known for years. Toxic chemicals and fertilizers not only pollute the soil but waterways and wildlife. Now that cannabis is largely grown indoors, it indirectly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions by using massive amounts of electricity and water.
Pot is grown in large windowless warehouses because cannabis farmers can eliminate worry about weather and climate which gives them control of their crop. In order to grow cannabis indoors, factory farmers need large amounts of electricity, water, fertilizers, synthetic soils, and chemicals. All of this causes massive amounts of waste because little of this can be recycled. What may be good for the stock Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG), for example, may be bad for the environment. Dumping of used soils contributes to groundwater pollution which isn’t any different from the aerospace manufacturers who dumped toxic chemicals on the ground that has leached into aquifers.
According to Evans, one large California cannabis factory uses enough electricity to power 90,000 homes. We estimate that the minimum water usage for this mega-factory would be 450,000 gallons of water per day which is more than Arrowhead Water pumps out of the San Bernardino Mountain springs each and every day.
Where are the regulators, the Environmental Protection Agency, Sierra Club, National Resource Defense Council, and others? With all the politicians being concerned about climate change, why are not these people asking questions?
Pot growing used to be the purview of backyard gardeners, college students growing cannabis in their dorm rooms or apartments, and cartels growing pot in national forests and South America. This is no longer the case with cannabis being the most profitable cash crop in America. Armies of MBAs are in charge of a growing industry. Pot growing has become very sophisticated and industrialized.
Growing cannabis indoors will require an upgrade to the nation’s grid system and power-producing capacities. Good luck with that when power producers and distributors will have to contend with a gigantic increase in power demand from the electrification of cars.
There is a solution where cannabis users can “have their pot and eat it too” Mills says, grow cannabis outdoors like farmers grow most other crops. As with industrial farming, there will be an overuse of fertilizers that will injure soils and pollute underground aquifers and waterways. Chemicals will be needed to eliminate weeds and insects that will be environmentally toxic. We suppose cannabis growing in most cases is not environmentally friendly whether grown inside or out.
Mills, E. (2021). To make cannabis green we need to grow it outdoors. Slate. Retrieved on March 16, 2021. https://slate.com/technology/2021/03/cannabis-environment-energy-indoor-outdoor-growth-climate-change.html
US Environmental Protection Agency (2021). Retrieved on March 16, 2021. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases
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