A new study has found indoor cannabis production to be a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, citing that the environmental effects can vary depending on where the cannabis is being grown.
The legalization of cannabis has resulted in a spike in its commercial production, especially in the US. Colorado is one of the only states to have legalized cannabis for recreational use, and the new study by a team from the Colorado State University analyzed how much electricity and natural gas are needed to grow the plant in an indoor climate.
The team calculated the greenhouse-gas emissions associated with the growth of the plant indoors and found that the lights involved use a lot of electricity. The study also found that facilities require a substantial amount of energy to maintain a healthy environment for the plants.
Growers of these plants may use air conditioners or heaters to maintain the ideal temperature and even resort to using carbon dioxide inside to increase the plant’s growth.
According to the study, “this accounts for 11% to 25% of facilities’ greenhouse gas emissions.”
It also found that the rate of greenhouse gas emissions produced varies by region.
Higher greenhouse gas emissions are produced when growing cannabis indoors in areas such as the Mountain West, Midwest, Alaska and Hawaii than the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. This is because climates are milder on the coasts, meaning less air conditioning and heating is necessary.
As the cannabis industry is still relatively new due to its recent legalizations in some parts, there is little information on some of the long-term effects of growing cannabis indoors.
There are currently little to no regulations on the emissions produced from indoor cannabis growth. The study suggests that the industry is expanding quickly, but little consideration is made for the environment.
The study concluded that the energy required to yield a single kilogram of dried cannabis plant produces about 2-5 tonnes equivalent of carbon dioxide. It found that moving weed production from indoor facilities to outdoor ones could help lessen the country’s cannabis industry’s carbon footprint.
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