A recent study published in Nature is the first of its kind to attempt to quantify greenhouse gas emissions across the US caused by growing cannabis indoors. The study found that:
- On average, growing a gram of cannabis inside a commercial grow produces as much greenhouse gas as driving a car for nine miles.
- Out of a pool of 1,011 cities modeled by researchers at Colorado State University, the location with the least greenhouse gas emissions from indoor cannabis cultivation was Long Beach, CA, where growing an ounce produces 143 pounds of carbon dioxide.
- The city with the highest emissions was Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, where producing the same amount of indoor cannabis results in 324 pounds of CO2, a stat that’s roughly equivalent to burning 16 gallons of gasoline.
Grow Where It’s Temperate
The Nature study is based on a new model of indoor grow inputs and outputs from Ph.D. student Hailey Summers in CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability.
“We built a model from the ground up that models commercial cannabis energy needs and material needs,” says Summers, a graduate student studying mechanical engineering. “So how much water does a commercial facility generally need, how many fertilizers, what types and then also a full HVAC system.”
The report shows in Colorado, the greenhouse gas emissions from the commercial cannabis industry are on par with other sectors such as coal mining and trash collection, sitting at about 1.3% of the state’s annual emissions total. Many Colorado cities ban outdoor pot-growing, and it takes a ton of energy to keep the plants happy in a controlled indoor environment. Growers in harsh, cold places such as Colorado and states in the Midwest, expend way more electricity optimizing the temperature and humidity of the indoor environment than growers in more temperate coastal climates, places like California and Washington state. That means that the best spots to grow outdoor weed are generally the best places to grow indoors.
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