Canada’s reputation for growing world-class bud has taken a big hit as legalization has ushered in an era characterized by mass production of often-unsalable, low-quality schwag. Some signs of progress are evident as the industry adjusts to the realization that the dream was oversold, but there is still a long, long way to go. What is needed is a sustainable model for clean, safe, legal cannabis production that is worthy of the label “Canadian-grown.”

Steps toward achieving that goal include increased outdoor regenerative farming, more rigorous inspection of production facilities, a shift from toxic to organic production methods, and use of appellations models for cannabis like those used in the wine industry.

Indoor cannabis production has a massive carbon footprint. Researcher Evan Mills estimates that the production of one kilogram of finished cannabis product creates carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to the production of three million average cars. But that is only part of the story. Commitment to the production of clean cannabis in the future means acknowledging that commercial fertilizers used today in its production are toxic to human health.

Cannabis is classified as an accumulator plant. It absorbs everything found in the environment – including all contaminants – so effectively that cannabis was grown after the meltdown at Chernobyl to remove radioactive waste from the soil.