Cannabis and the Carbon Footprint

By 2020 it’s estimated that legal cannabis sales will generate more annual revenue than the National Football League.  Legal marijuana has been a major social and economic boost, but at what cost to our environment?

The average cannabis farmer operates an indoor garden.

To imitate the sun,  we run powerful intense lights that use a lot of energy and generate a lot of heat. This excess heat causes problems for the plants, so we run proper A.C. units to keep the temperature just right. Not to mention, cannabis is a thirsty plant, twice as much water than growing grapes! If that humidity lingers in the air, our crops face bud rot, mold, and mildew, thus the powerful de-humidifiers plug in to play.  To increase yield, we’re pumping CO2 into the air of these indoor grows.

Indoor Grow with lights, fans, and more. By Laughing Squid


Wow! That’s a lot of electricity!

Some farmers opt to grow outdoor.

Outdoor cannabis uses the endless supply of light from the sun, but is mother nature as nurturing as our highly controlled indoor climates?  Outdoor cannabis can be a relatively low maintenance project with a low overhead cost. On the downside, quality control is a major issue. The delicate trichomes on the buds of these plants contain THC and other beneficial cannabinoids. The trichomes can become damaged in the outdoor elements of rain, wind, predators, and more. As fate is controlled by weather, bud rot becomes difficult to avoid in many climates.

pot zero farmer
Farmer at Pot Zero, a fully sustainable biodynamic cannabis farm in Gypsum, CO.

Between extreme quality control and sustainability, there may be a happy middle ground in the modern greenhouse.

Modern greenhouses enable the tightest degree of environmental control in agriculture while benefiting from the abundant light from the sun. Humidity, temperature, and ventilation can still be controlled in this environment. Supplemental lights can be used in the vegetative room to keep them growing big and strong. These lights are also beneficial in cooler months, where the heat emission from the lights is actually beneficial. Light deprivation or blackout curtains can be used to ensure the 12 hours of darkness needed for cannabis to flower.

greenhouse supplemental light
Supplemental lighting in a modern greenhouse. By Farmer Tyler

What do you think the future of Cannabis will look like?


With Gratitude,




Guide to Starting a Commercial Cannabis Grow Operation

Growing Cannabis Indoors vs. Outdoors vs. Greenhouse | The Great Debate

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