The Cannabis industry is disturbingly bad for the environment

Cannabis and hemp leaders meet to discuss environmental impact at the Regenerative Cannabis Live conference 

cannabis and hemp industry
Regenerative Cannabis Live conference 

On a beautiful spring day in New York City, leaders from across the cannabis and hemp industry convened at the Regenerative Cannabis Live conference to discuss a sustainable development plan on a global scale.

Held at the United Nations, the panels and discussions focused on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the economic, governance, social and environmental impacts facing the industry.

“Our defining mantra is the need to democratize opportunities in cannabis and hemp while accelerating the innovation, products, and services that will drive sustainable development and equitable growth,” said Geoff Trotter, Chief Growth Officer, Regennabis.

Commercial cannabis/hemp requires a lot of energy and can be cultivated in a variety of ways including indoors, outdoors, or in greenhouses. While each method has its own unique set of benefits and drawbacks, some growing methods may be more environmentally challenging than others.

Chris Hagedorn, President of Hawthorne Gardening Company, spoke on the importance of resource use efficiency across the entire industry at the Regenerative Cannabis Live conference.

According to Hagedorn, cannabis/hemp cultivation is the second most environmentally damaging industry right after cryptocurrency mining. Lighting and HVAC take up the most resources when it comes to commercial cannabis and hemp cultivation.

In fact, electricity use represents roughly 20% of the total cost of a cannabis/hemp operation and data has shown that facilities incorporating LED lights end up using an average of 30-40% less energy while working towards a more sustainable future for the industry.

80% of the water used for cannabis/hemp cultivation can be saved and refiltered for later use, effectively keeping sustainability at the forefront along with the benefit of significant cost savings.

When it comes to innovation, the cannabis industry drives it across many avenues which in turn benefits the entire agricultural industry as a whole.

Research and data are crucial for making significant progress toward these sustainability goals but one of the industry’s biggest hurdles is the barrier to research due to cannabis being scheduled and classified as a federally controlled substance in the United States.

This specific reason is why Hawthorne Gardening Company opened a cannabis research facility in Canada as cannabis has been federally legal since October 2018 in the country.

Collecting good data and using fact-based evidence is essential when educating and communicating with policymakers to create sensible regulations. Along with a vast amount of public and private research, industry standardization could play an important role in resource use efficiency as more states and countries join the adult recreational market.

In order to reach the cannabis and hemp industry’s sustainable development goals, regulators need to incentivize companies to use energy-efficient processes while also keeping in mind that there will be a strong need for financing.

Making funds available to social equity businesses is crucial since implementing these processes can be very cost-prohibitive to smaller and less funded organizations.

Through new technology being developed and fine-tuned based on real-world data evidence, cultivators will be able to get the most efficient use of their resources. Being able to give exactly what the cultivation requires at a specific moment in time will help drive the continued sustainable development of the cannabis and hemp industry.

The mere fact that the Regenerative Cannabis Live conference was held at the United Nations bringing together government, nonprofit and corporate decision-makers is a major step towards the normalization of a budding cannabis and hemp industry that is slated to be worth billions.

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