Marijuana was part of the environmentalist/freedom/hippie agenda. It was a counterculture sacrament…a tribal medicine. And caring about the earth was a big part of the marijuana vibe.
Nowadays though, marijuana growing is big business, and as with almost all business, it hurts our environment.
Like, I grow 80% of my yearly marijuana indoors, so I’m sucking down megawatts of electricity generated by coal, dammed rivers, or nuclear power plants.
Manufacturing of equipment and supplies for marijuana growing, transportation impacts for shipping marijuana grow materials (including organic marijuana growing materials)…it all inevitably contributes to pollution, land degradation, biosphere loss.
When it comes to human activities like industrial logging destruction of majestic forests that hemp-marijuana activists like Woody Harrelson protested years ago, we see that most worldwide industries and human activities—mining, manufacturing, logging, fossil fuel extraction and use, population growth, GMOs, overfishing among them, are on track to create a dystopic Blade Runner, They Live, Mad Max world.
So it was no surprise when scientists released an aerial surveillance video showing industrial marijuana grows in Northern California’s Emerald Triangle rip up the environment.
I’ve been to some of those Emerald Triangle marijuana plantations, and it’s a love-hate thing for me.
For sure I love seeing marijuana trees that yield four pounds of outdoor bud each. When you stroll aisles of eight feet high marijuana trees, brushing against fragrant monster-buds, you have to admire big-scale outdoor growing and all the irrigation tubing, pump timers, guard wire, and water it takes to do it.
It’s nice that outdoor marijuana growers are using free, clean sunshine and wind instead of fans and HID lights.
And that outdoor marijuana roots can roam free, like in a marijuana plantation I visited where the grower fed molasses, Voodoo Juice, Tarantula, Roots Excelurator through week five of veg. He got roots that went out six or seven feet from the plant’s stalk!
Outdoor growers can let their marijuana roots get as big as they want to be, to send up truly magnificent marijuana shrub-trees so big and lush you can wade into them and play hide and seek with passerby!
But for all that cannabliss, I was sad seeing weed growers who chainsaw-massacred entire hillsides, ruined streams, groundwater, and springs, were dumping ferts and pesticides into the environment, had derelict vehicles rusting away, were shooting animals, were inducing erosion and soil loss.
It was sloppy and unnecessary. They could have grown the same number of plants and done far less, if any, damage.
All the same, I get it that the 3,000 watts of marijuana-growing power I run for my grow op are created by a coal-fired power plant south of me that sends poison into the air that we breathe around here.
I was high on Haze one summer day, feeling especially paranoid after hearing repeated warnings on local news channels about “moderate to dangerous” air pollution levels in my area. I’d been coughing a lot, and it wasn’t because I use marijuana. It was the polluted air!
As I cursed “corporate polluters,” I did a hypocrisy scan, and realized that along with the greedy corporation with its coal smoke, my demand for 3000 watts of HID lighting is partly responsible for the air pollution that makes me sick.
It wasn’t just the evil them. It was me, too. In fact, all of us are polluters and consumers. We all hurt the planet, just by living.
This doesn’t stop me from growing marijuana indoors. But I made energy-saving changes in my grow room, such as investing in a higher-quality grow bulb (the Diamond Series) and a light mover, so I made a reduction in the watts I used.
And then there are those massive industrial outdoor grows run by criminal cartels from Mexico. They’ve devastated thousands of acres of national forest and private land.
Unlike the increasing percentage of Emerald Triangle marijuana growers who at least attempt to minimize their environmental damage, and have committed to a more ecologically responsible marijuana industry, Mexican criminal cartel growers rip forests apart, plant thousands of plants, use toxic pesticides, and will shoot your a** no questions asked if you stumble upon their grow operation.
Their crazy bad outdoor grow ops, along with the careless industrial marijuana outdoor grows operated by American citizens, give marijuana a bad name. Law enforcement uses these operations to justify military-style anti-marijuana helicopter patrols.
How to be an environmentalist marijuana grower? Consider these tactics:
- Use the most-effective hydroponics materials and methods to get the most buds from each plant. Efficiency = Green.
- Insulate and otherwise retrofit grow house so it uses as little energy as possible. Heavily insulate and RFI shield your attic and walls. Recycle heat. Shade trees. Get high-SEER AC.
- Use the most energy-efficient lighting and light cycles to suck down as few watts as possible while delivering maximum firepower for your plants. Consider light movers. Maximize indoor grow reflectivity factor. Use Chameleon plasma and HID.
- Recycle root zone materials using SensiZyme and methods that allow more than one crop cycle for the materials. Can be done even with rockwool if you’re willing to handle the material and clean it properly.
- Never use synthetic or long-lasting herbicides or pesticides in grow room, home or outdoor property.
- If growing outdoors, use permaculture and deep ecology principles. Put the site’s ecological balance and integrity on equal par with your desire to grow primo outdoor bud. If you decide to grow, give it your best shot at leaving that place beautiful, healthy, and clean.
- Organic is less environmentally harmful than pure hydroponics, and its environmental advantage increases if you grow organically outdoors, using locally sourced organic materials. In most cases, however, growers don’t have any easy way to get local organic materials or grow without harming the outdoors.
- Use solar and wind power to generate electricity whenever possible.
- Live an environmentally-responsible lifestyle that avoids large vehicles, excess consumption, and needless harm to air, water, land.
- Volunteer for environmental organizations and provide funding to environmental organizations, activists, causes.
- Vote against politicians owned by corporate environmental criminals such as those who make GMOs, or who plunder earth materials and life forms in a way that resembles what the corporation did to the blue people and their beautiful planet in Avatar!
Of course, the concern about environmentally-harmful outdoor marijuana farms reflects society’s prejudice against marijuana.
A high-end, ecologically responsible marijuana plantation is more environmentally-safe than a similar acreage of wine grapes. Wine grape growing uses huge amounts of toxic pesticides and fungicides that transfer into the grapes, while also harming the environment and vineyard workers.
Yet I haven’t seen anyone making aerial videos showing how the wine grape industry messes up the environment in wine regions like California’s Napa Valley.
Agriculture–whether marijuana, corn, GMO soy, or winegrapes–tends to harm the land.
I love marijuana growing, but I’m honest..my marijuana growing, even outdoors, produces some degree of negative impact on the environment.
I’ve cut down trees in the forest to plant a patch of weed. I made a nice, green. alive place into kind of an ugly, dead place. But my plants needed the light. And I got a killer harvest without mold.
I wish I could run thousands of watts of grow lights off of some magical energy source that costs nothing and has no negative environmental impacts.
One thing’s for sure…I feel grateful every day that I can source electricity, hydroponics nutrients, reverse osmosis water, HID bulbs, and other crucial supplies that make my marijuana growing possible. But at least I’m honest with myself…I’m harming the environment, and I need to do whatever I can to lessen my ecological impacts.