According to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Sustainability, an eighth of legal cannabis comes with up to a 41-pound carbon footprint, Gizmodo reports. The Colorado State University researchers found that the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions created by one indoor cultivation warehouse was between 5,033 pounds and 11,428 pounds of carbon-equivalent per every 2.2 pounds of dried flower.
In an interview with Gizmodo, Jason Quinn, an associate professor of the mechanical engineering department at Colorado State University and the study’s lead author, said that neither policymakers nor consumers are “paying much attention to environmental impacts of the cannabis industry.”
“There is little to no regulation on emissions for growing cannabis indoors. Consumers aren’t considering the environmental effect either. This industry is developing and expanding very quickly without consideration for the environment.” – Quinn to Gizmodo
Last year, a National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners panel suggested the legal cannabis industry’s energy bill in the U.S. could reach about $11 billion.
Another report last year by Evan Mills, Ph.D. of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Scott Zeramby, purported that indoor cannabis production used 20 billion kilowatt-hours, produced up to 15 million metric tons of CO2, and ran a monetary expenditure of $6 billion dollars per year.
The CSU study design mimicked a typical cannabis cultivation warehouse – complete with HVAC, grow lights, pesticides and fungicides, and water applied through drip irrigation “at an average rate of 3.8 liters per plant per day.”
The researchers suggest that were indoor cannabis cultivation fully converted to outdoor operations, Colorado would “see a reduction of more than 1.3% in the state’s annual [greenhouse gas] emissions,” an equivalent of 2.3 million tons of carbon.
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