US (IL): Setting environmental standards in Illinois

The legalization of adult-use cannabis in Illinois brings with it a set of new environmental rules that, together with similar rules in Massachusetts, will help set standards for cultivators across the country, even in states where no such rules exist.

“Resource Innovation Institute applauds Gov. Pritzker and the Illinois State Legislature for following Massachusetts’ lead in ensuring that cannabis growers can thrive while maintaining high environmental standards. Consistent rules from state to state and country to country are one critical element in ensuring that this fast-moving and dynamic industry scales with an efficient production system. To work most effectively, these government actions should be coordinated with incentives from utilities, education on best practices and required reporting of data on resource usage,” said Derek Smith, executive director of the Resource Innovation Institute.

“For all stakeholders to achieve their objectives in this scenario, we need to recognize the situation for what it is. It is a hyper-accelerated market transformation. This industry is essentially going from a shadow high-margin economy to a highly regulated market suffering shockwaves of cost compression while it scales globally overnight without any handbook. Installation of efficient technologies is on the rise, yet our research indicates that few facility operators know how to optimize their efficiency. Every supply chain company I speak to is telling me that they need more data. Over time we can set additional standards and targets based on what the data are telling us. For now, states should focus on getting the right mix of guidance and support, like Massachusetts and Illinois have done,” Smith continued.

As more legal cannabis markets come online across the United States and globally, communities and the utilities that serve them are grappling with increased energy usage and a method for establishing energy regulation. The Resource Innovation Institute is committed to advancing resource efficiency to create a better cannabis future.

The non-profit has received foundation funding to support Massachusetts stakeholders, including cannabis operators, utilities, construction professionals and others, through the integration of the new law with peer-reviewed guidance on resource-efficient cultivation.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker in June signed the legalization bill into law. The Illinois Environmental Council called it “the greenest cannabis bill in the country.” To get a permit, growers must submit detailed plans to the state’s Department of Agriculture, which will ensure those plans are adhered to. Among the requirements: specific plans for recycling and managing water, a demonstrated commitment to use resources efficiently, including energy and water, data on their estimated energy use and a pledge to submit actual energy use data.

Hundreds of cultivation operations across the United States and Canada have already participated in RII’s Cannabis PowerScore survey, which benchmarks and aggregates power consumption data across a range of grow environments, climate zones and geographies to determine the most resource-efficient approaches to cannabis cultivation.

Energy use reporting will be required by Illinois and Massachusetts. RII encourages cultivators to get a head start and see where they stand by participating in the Cannabis PowerScore at cannabispowerscore.org.

Policy and utility stakeholders will gather to discuss indoor agriculture energy solutions at a conference to be held in San Diego in early 2020. For more information, please sign up for RII’s newsletter at www.ResourceInnovation.org 


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