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  • Olivia Castro

Are Cannabis Farm Environmentally Friendly?

Updated: Sep 21, 2021


As states in the U.S. legalize marijuana one by one, there are more and more cannabis farms popping up all over the country. But are these farms sustainable?


There are more marijuana farms today in the States than ever before. But how do these farms impact the environment? Are they going to be sustainable over time?



In today’s blog, we will be reviewing a new study that gets into the details on the sustainability of marijuana farms.


Are Marijuana Farms Sustainable?


Traditionally, cannabis farms were thought to be unsustainable due to the amount of water that the plants intake. This new study displays that cannabis plants actually don’t take up that much water. It showed the cannabis farms used even less water than California’s top agricultural crop, almonds!


Cannabis was historically lumped into the same category as almonds for being water guzzlers yet this new study is showing something different. Although this study is not showing marijuana farms to be completely sustainable, it is however showing that they are not any “thirstier” then any other California crop. This study even found that legal outdoor cannabis farms used about the same amount of water that tomato farms use!


A simple way to look at the sustainability of a crop is to look at the output that is produced per single gallon of water used to grow the crop. Popular California crops such as almonds and tomatoes produce up to 2 cents per single gallon used to produce them. This is not very sustainable since this means that these two crops intake more water to grow than they are even sold for at the end of the day.


But if we look at marijuana, we can see something a little better! Marijuana produces on average $7 worth of value per single gallon used. In this sense, cannabis is by far more water-efficient and sustainable than any other crop that is produced in California!


This study is a great start but there is still much work to be done. One limitation of this study was that it only looked at legal outdoor growing in California. There could be additional research done to look at unregulated farms that haven’t reported any water usage.


Another limitation of the study is that it is based on California. This state is notorious for water insecurity due to fires and droughts. Other states, such as Colorado or Oregon, that have outdoor marijuana farms may use less water due to natural rainfall and humidity in the air.


Either way, this study was a great start and gives hope to the marijuana community that sustainability can be implemented within the industry!


 

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