As someone who has cultivated indoor cannabis and harvested outdoor cannabis, I think knowing the difference between the two is critical.
”Cannabis is just cannabis,” well not exactly.
The natural method allows for the plant to grow and thrive without the harsh chemicals many indoor growers use.
Because you are manipulating the growth of a plant that has been outdoors for literally thousands of years, most indoor growers (dispensaries included) don’t have the patience, wherewithal, or knowledge of how to grow the plant without chemically-based nutrients, pesticides, and so on.
If you know an individual who grows cannabis sustainably, even if it costs more, please continue to support them.
The Difference Between Indoor- and Outdoor-Grown Weed (and Why It Matters)
Indoor Growing Is About Control
First, it’s important to point out that cannabis can’t be grown outdoors just anywhere. In a weed-heavy state like California, the moist north, with its forests and gullies, is quite hospitable to an outdoor cannabis growing season, while its arid south is a hub of indoor cultivation.
Robert Masterson, a cultivator at A Golden State, told us that standardized methodology is their motivation for growing indoors. “Cannabis grown indoors can be given the perfect amount of light per square foot and unique spectrums of different lighting sources to maximize terpenes and potency,” he said. “Not all indoor cultivators can completely control their environment, but when done correctly they can achieve the highest genetic potential of specific cultivars.“
This means that by using data and technology, cultivators can fine-tune every element of the process for each strain in pursuit of the holy trinity: higher yields, higher potency, and bespoke sensory qualities. For some consumers, this is precisely the type of cannabis experience they are seeking.
While myths about “today’s” THC contents being higher than ever have been circulating since the mid-2010’s, that push has been consumer-driven, not tech-driven. In 2015 The Atlantic reported the “shift toward high potency has arguably more to do with contemporary market forces than with a younger generation of marijuana enthusiasts.”
Flavor and strong THC content are not only driven by indoor cultivation but they are ensured by more consistent growing conditions. As Masterson told us, however, “not all indoor cannabis is grown equally. Make sure you choose a brand that truly understands what they are doing. It costs more to produce cannabis in a controlled environment. Prices at a retail store generally reflect that.”
Outdoor Can Be Quality Too
The corporatization of cannabis costs the ecosystem a lot, regardless of the cultivation method. While growers like A Golden State and Wonderbrett put effort into sourcing sustainable utilities and lowering their impact, while many indoor growers just use as much plastic, electricity, water, fertilizer and resources as they think they need to get the highest yields and THC possible.
That’s why Raeven Duckett Robinson, Co-founder of Community Gardens in Oakland, California is on #teamoutdoor. “It’s like [the] Twizzler versus Red Vine debate. I support outdoor because it’s more affordable—and weed should be grown outdoors anyways; indoor gets over-hyped and it’s bad for the environment.”
She told us, “based on the regulations and the way we need to package, keep records and receipts for a legal cannabis operation, there’s a lot of waste created, especially in terms of packaging. The amount of energy indoor wastes unnecessarily adds to the environmental footprint of the entire industry. The amount of energy it takes to grow the plant [indoors] is significant, and I believe it’s inefficient and unnecessary because they can grow outside with light from the sun.”
Sam Ludwig is in alignment with Robinson’s thinking—that nature makes the best weed. “Indoor products will always look sexier with a denser structure and more visible trichomes on the exterior but indoor typically provides a shallow high and reduced medicinal properties,” he said. “The plant has been growing in nature under the sun, moon and stars for millennia, not indoors in a windowless room [lit by] LEDs.”
Along with Aster Farms CEO Julia Jacobson, Ludwig’s wife and resident dirt scholar, they designed an outdoor operation a little differently: “At Aster we grow in-ground in live soil filled with bugs, fungi, and bacteria breaking down organic matter to feed the plants. We feed the soil because the soil feeds the plants. It’s just a different approach from top to bottom, and we believe it produces a superior product with superior effects.”
Article Compilation By K. Crystal Carter
– K. Crystal Carter is a cryptocurrency and blockchain enthusiast who is originally from Oakland, California. She has 7.5 years of experience in the financial industry, and 6 years of being a cannabis hydroponics grow director and cannabis advocate at local City Hall meetings. She currently resides in Las Vegas as one of the lead Earthy Realist team members.
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