Medical Marijuana Growers Struggle To Find Greener Ways Of Growing
Posted by Laura Vladimirova | May 25 2011 | 8667 views | Comments ↓
Growers struggle to find greener ways to grow.
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It was only a matter of time before the burgeoning Medical Marijuana sector received the same eco-scrutiny as appliance or car manufacturers. While every industry should be held accountable for emissions, energy consumption, and overall footprint, there is currently an obvious difference: freedom.
Unlike toasters, marijuana production developed as a clandestine, illegal operation. Indoor grow-ops went indoors for a reason. It’s difficult to tell what the industry would be like if natural growing techniques were the norm.
As a legalization advocate for decades, Big Buds grow writer, Subcool, has experience with both indoor technology-dependent greenhouses and outdoor plant fields. He’s outspoken when it comes to the current depiction of grow-ops in the same category as gas guzzling cars.
“Indoor growing is certainly not green,” says Subcool, “but I feel that our industry has been unfairly attacked…Most indoor growers like myself do so because its simply too risky to cultivate under the sun due to draconian laws or law enforcement not willing to acknowledge new laws on the books…Its hard to be really green when our main goal is not to be locked inside of a steel cage.”
The war on drugs has greatly shaped the way cannabis is grown and distributed. Large, industrialized and energy-inefficient indoor operations are relatively new. And unlike expansion in other industries, the pursuit of privacy, security, and personal safety did little to allow for experimentation with energy saving practices.
It is only recently, and after billions in private research, that businesses in other sectors even considered their environmental impact. This was done with the support of major research firms, environmental organizations, and appropriate product labeling. The marijuana industry does not have the same support.
“We use an enormous amount of electricity as well as carbon dioxide injection, so I am embarrassed about my carbon foot print. But we are aware of this fact and would love to see this change,” says Subcool.
The footprint statistics are quite staggering. According to the most recent studies, it requires 70 gallons of diesel fuel to produce one (commercially grown) indoor Cannabis plant. For the consumer, one joint is equal to running a 100-watt light bulb for 17 hours. Clearly, the industry is facing some serious concerns.
Subcool has a few ideas when it comes to improving his favorite profession. “Take the military style raids away and you would see many of us move outdoors. I have even designed a very green outdoor greenhouse that uses solar power…I feel that anyone living in the sun belt should be investing in solar. It is proven and it works...”
Moving outdoors does seem like the most natural solution. In Subcool’s experience, outdoor growers have to pay even closer attention to their plants. “Many of the states that now support medical marijuana have poor growing conditions,” he says. “With the increase in outdoor gardens we have also seen an increase in medical flowers contaminated with mildew and mold.”
There are other options that have gone unexplored, like industry-wide guidelines that reflect better energy usage, efficiency incentives like solar power tax breaks, or even labeling systems similar in vein to the organic stamp for fruit and vegetables. Maybe in some places marijuana enthusiasts could eventually consider themselves locavores, supporting only locally grown bud.
Further, open access and clarity for growers and consumers in energy education within this sector would eventually lead to greener techniques.
Personal initiatives count too. At the dispensary, asking if they test for mold is a start. Bring your own reusable containers or asking the dispensary to carry products that come in compost-ready packaging works to eliminate plastic bags and cellophane wrap. Vaping greatly reduces reliance on wood-pulp made papers.
On a legislative scale, policy makers in Colorado tried to enforce environmental protection by asking their growers to purchase offsets for all of their electricity use. While seemingly an interesting prospect, Subcool is convinced that this is not the way forward.
“The Cannabis industry in CO is failing because of laws like this. They have regulated the industry out of existence. There is a max exodus out of CO right now into Cali. They have simply made it too costly to produce flowers,” he says.
For Subcool, the green movement won’t take off before legalization. “As long as there are restrictions on how and where we can grow and raids and people going to jail for growing plants, the industry cannot move to be greener.”
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Thursday, 26 May 2011
Article by Laura Vladimirova, on May. 25th 2011