The Unexpected Environmental Consequences of the Cannabis Industry

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As you probably know, the liberalization of laws on cannabis use has been speeding up in recent years. Towards the end of 2018, Canada’s administration took the momentous step of legalizing the recreational use of cannabis. Just a few months later, the US Congress voted in favor of the farm bill, thus legalizing medicinal cannabis across the country. These two important events, in particular, caused the cannabis market to expand rapidly. Since then, people up and down the continent have been growing, purchasing, and using cannabis at unprecedented rates. In light of this, a lot of attention has been directed at the potential consequences that this widespread adoption of cannabis can have on people. For example, billboards across Canada have been erected warning people not to drive after smoking or eating cannabis. Meanwhile, policymakers in the US are paying close attention to medical research and using it to inform regulations on how medicinal cannabis can and can’t be used and sold. However, it’s not just people that the cannabis industry can have consequences for – it’s the environment too. Unfortunately, far less attention has been directed towards this important topic.

Energy Consumption: A Cause For Concern

The biggest cause for environmental concern in this area relates to the cultivation of cannabis. Regulations and policies on cannabis cultivation in the US favor indoor operations, which is pushing many farmers to grow their cannabis plants indoors. The problem with this is that cultivating cannabis indoors really isn’t all that energy efficient. According to a study by the International Cannabis Farmers Association, just half an acre of indoor cannabis production uses the same amount of energy as 298 households would use across a whole year. The reason energy consumption is so high is that artificial lighting and heating is required to maintain the right climate for the plants to grow. If these farmers were to grow their plants using the sun’s light instead, operations would be much more energy efficient. In fact, data shows that four season greenhouses use as much energy as 82 households, whereas greenhouses that rely on the sunlight use as much as just 15 households – that’s more than 5 times less. Energy consumption is the driving force behind climate change, and reducing national energy use should be a key goal of all environmentally conscious nations. The US and Canada need to do more to address this pressing concern and encourage more sustainable farming practices if they want to meet the energy consumption targets set by the Paris Accords.

The Impact of Cannabis on Fresh Water Supplies

The effects of the cannabis industry on the environment extends beyond energy consumption. Another area of concern is how it may affect our fresh water supplies. The problem is that all pharmaceuticals can potentially have a significant impact on the freshwater environment by contaminating bodies of water. More governmental discussion is needed to ensure that this doesn’t become a problem, especially seeing ass North America’s lakes account for a huge portion of the world’s freshwater supplies, and millions of citizens are dependent on them for clean, safe drinking water.

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