This article originally appeared in the May 2017 print edition of Cannabis Business Times. To subscribe, click here.
With inconsistent public data, shifting regulations and fast-moving markets, it’s an understatement to say that it’s challenging to quantify the cannabis industry’s natural-resource impacts. A few serious attempts have been made to do so, alongside countless oversimplified hack jobs. However, we can say with confidence that cannabis production industry’s energy, water and carbon footprint weigh heavily when considering the market’s long-term viability.
Among a handful of other critical issues, resource efficiency will define the future of cannabis. This is true for at least three reasons:
Environmental impact: Cannabis is likely not the worst environmental actor among all industries, but it certainly is nowhere near the best. Despite the deep sustainability beliefs of many leading cultivators, the reality is, if current cannabis production trends (the mix of indoor, greenhouse and outdoor growing) continue, we could be among the industries most impacting climate change and exacerbating water shortages.
Producer competitiveness: Many producers will fail on the near-term horizon because of inefficient cultivation operations, leaving the industry with stranded assets and investors with squandered resources from a lack of due diligence. In contrast, the more producers are efficient, the more they’ll be able to out-compete and suppress the illicit market.
Industry reputation: Once documented—either legitimately via credible research or carelessly by a headline-grabbing publication—the degree of environmental impact bears the risk of impugning the industry’s increasingly positive reputation.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
With very little installed infrastructure, the cannabis industry has a unique opportunity to be bold in setting a level playing field for all producers to compete, while dramatically decreasing their environmental footprint.
The main challenge is that there are no widely accepted standards for technologies, facilities nor processes. And creating credible standards takes time. So we must create standards while we create a vision.
To read the full article in Cannabis Business Times’ May edition, click here.
Source: Cannabis Business Times