Indoor Grows Carry a Heavy Carbon Footprint But They’re Still the State’s Most Common Method for Growing Weed

Despite the legalization of commercial marijuana, bans on outdoor cultivation have pushed most grow operations indoors. Among other things, it means cannabis is exacting a heavier carbon footprint in California than it needs to.

As Leafly notes, outdoor cultivation is only permitted in 12 municipalities.

“According to a 2011 articlein the Journal of Energy Policy, the electricity used in indoor cannabis operations adds up to 1% of the nation’s power, equivalent to the amount needed to power 2 million average homes in the US. Additionally, the high-intensity bulbs used in most operations contain about 30mg of mercury each—the EPA considers mercury emissions to be among the most serious air quality threats to human health.”

Not to mention water use and irrigation.

So why do cities and counties remain so sour on outdoor growing? According to Kristin Nevedal, founder of the International Cannabis Farmers Association (ICFA), much of the antipathy can be chalked up to environmental degradation that occurred when marijuana was still illegal. The stigma has remained and it is unsustainable, Nevedal said.

“Not just in CA, but on a global level, we can’t necessarily afford the greenhouse gas associated with cultivation under high intensity discharge lighting in a yearlong manner when, really, this plant can go in the ground and be farmed using natural sunlight,” she told Leafly.

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