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US: Embracing environmentally conscious cannabis cultivation

Thirty-six states have legalized cannabis. Demand for the product has skyrocketed as a result. But so has the debate over whether indoor cannabis growing uses excessive amounts of electricity and water, harming the planet.

Recent studies and media reports have spotlighted the issue. But according to Brian Herrington's recent article, not enough attention has been trained on the many ways that private and public entities have found to address it. New technologies, along with governmental guidelines and incentives, have unleashed a wave of environmentally conscious options for both indoor and outdoor cultivation. Conversion of operations out of the illicit market into the legal regulated market is creating huge sustainability wins. As opposed to operations being in basements, caves or forests, licensed operators are working with architects, equipment manufacturers, large-scale growers and other experts to create resource efficient operations. 

Advanced, energy-conserving lighting technology is one innovation that’s making a significant difference. Energy-efficient LED (light emitting diode) lighting is common for illumination in our homes or offices but not for indoor cultivation. That’s because plants use different spectrums of light to grow. Growers have long used traditional High Intensity Discharge (HID) lighting to achieve desired quality and yield outcomes. But in the past few years, LEDs are gaining traction in indoor cultivation thanks to innovation that is making this technology more effective, practical and affordable. Compared to traditional HID lighting, LED lighting generates five percent more light while using 20 percent less energy. LED technology in horticulture is still in its infancy. But the reality is even more energy efficiency coupled with greater light output is within reach.

Water shortages and wastewater pollution are commonplace in many states as are corresponding conservation requirements. Here, too, innovation is making a difference. Indoor irrigation has evolved to the point that nutrient-rich water used to grow cannabis can be purified and reused. Even water pulled from an indoor growing facility’s dehumidification system can be captured for reuse in irrigation systems. This is a welcome alternative to the common practice of hauling away excess nutrient-rich water to safe disposal locations or putting it in a sewage system.

To read the complete article, go to www.realclearpolicy.com


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