How the cannabis industry is addressing its energy problem

According to a nearly ubiquitously reported study, the cannabis industry has an energy problem. Indoor growing, the study authors write, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions in a “range, based on location, from 2,283 to 5,184 Kg CO2-equivalent per kg of dried flower.”

So, what does that mean? In short, a lot of greenhouse gasses are pumped into our already loaded skies, from Southern California (lowest emissions) to Hawaii (highest). The Colorado State University researchers added, in a companion story to their study, that an ounce of cannabis grown in Hawaii is like burning 16 gallons of gas.

Indoor-grown flower was nearly half of the $19 billion 2020 market, and indoor growing is widely expected to become the majority growing method as its light, climate, and other quality controls make for much-desired, crystal-covered, high-THC buds, and these indoor crops can be produced in multiple crops a year, regardless of what the weather outside is.

“It’s a good study,” said Shawn Cooney, an indoor farmer in Boston and founding member of the Sustainable Cannabis Coalition, emphasizing the Colorado study’s effort to document not only energy use but also how that energy is produced where the farm is located. If the energy grid in the region is coal-based, then the carbon footprint of the farm will be higher.


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