Environmental Impacts Caused by Marijuana
Drugs are negatively impacting our environment, especially with the expansion of marijuana grows.
Every Brain requires a healthy environment to thrive.
Marijuana not only is poisoning our brains, but it is also poisoning our waters, soil and forests, and animals, and using up valuable natural resources.
Legal cannabis production in Colorado emits more greenhouse gases than the state’s coal mining industry, researchers analysing the sector’s energy use have found.
The production and use of cannabis for medical or recreational reasons is now legal in several US states, which has led to a booming industry.
Hailey Summers and her colleagues at Colorado State University have quantified and analysed the greenhouse gas emissions produced by cannabis growers.
They found that emissions varied widely by state, from 2.3 to 5.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per kilogram of dried flower produced.
In Colorado, the emissions add up to around 2.6 megatonnes of CO2e, which is more than that from the state’s coal mining at 1.8 megatonnes of CO2e.
“The emissions that come from growing 1 ounce, depending on where it’s grown in the US, is about the same as burning 7 to 16 gallons of gasoline,” says Summers.
Most US cannabis is grown indoors, as some states don’t allow outdoor growing and the crops are also at risk of theft. This means that the majority of cannabis production emissions come from climate-control systems and high-powered lights that take the place of the sun.
“One of the challenges associated with this is that the profit margins are so huge that you don’t have to be making super energy-conscious decisions,” says team member Jason Quinn.
The team suggests that moving to growing cannabis outdoors in greenhouses could lower the energy requirements and reduce emissions. The current indoor set-ups could also be made more energy efficient by switching to LED bulbs and retrofitting the climate-control systems. Making the change in Colorado would save 2.1 megatonnes of CO2e, or 1.3 per cent of the state’s total emissions.
The carbon footprint of the cannabis industry is even larger than this study indicates, says Evan Mills, formerly at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, as the team didn’t look at emissions associated with storage and processing.
Illegal cannabis production is also likely to be more highly emitting, he says. “The energy profile of black-market production is distinctly different in that it frequently involves on-site diesel generators, which are often less efficient and more polluting per kilowatt-hour than grid-purchased electricity.”
Journal reference: Nature Sustainability, DOI: 10.1038/s41893-021-00691-w
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The only thing green about marijuana is the color. Otherwise, it is an environmental disaster.
Whether grown outdoors or indoors, it is dirty agriculture and negatively impacts air & water quality, robs the electric grid and watersheds, and produces greenhouse gases. The industry uses heavy pesticides which put wildlife at risk. It was never meant to be a large-scale agricultural product. The end product contains mold and toxins that are harmful to humans.
December 19, 2019
DR. WILLIAM VIZUETE
The emissions from cannabis cultivation factories (CCFs) for recreational and medicinal use could strongly impact the regional air quality in Denver, Colorado, according to research from William Vizuete, PhD, associate professor of environmental sciences and engineering at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
As more and more bills are passed in the United States to legalize recreational cannabis, the industry boom has become one of the largest in the country. Cultivation, sale and consumption of cannabis in the state of Colorado totaled $1.5 billion in 2017 – higher than the revenue for its grain farming industry. But despite its climbing revenues, the cannabis industry is not subject to the same environmental impact monitoring as the industries it rivals. Previous legal restrictions have limited the scope of this research, and prior studies pertain only to the impact of outdoor cultivation on ecosystems and watersheds, as well as to the energy consumption of indoor cultivation and its impact on greenhouse gas emissions (such as carbon dioxide).
Vizuete’s research, published by Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics in November, examined the impact on air quality in Colorado from biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) emitted by CCFs. BVOCs are chemicals produced naturally by plants, but their high volatility can have significant ramifications on air quality if emission rates increase. The BVOCs produced in cannabis cultivation, like monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, can lead to the formation of excess aerosols and ozone – both of which have climate-relevant implications and can contribute to air pollution that is harmful to health, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Denver region, in particular, has been classified by the EPA as an ozone nonattainment area, meaning it does not meet federal standards for ozone emissions. At the time of this study, it was classified as “moderate,” but the EPA has recently reclassified it as “serious.” Ozone concentrations in the Denver area are sensitive to volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and an increase in their emissions, such as the ones produced by the cannabis industry, will also increase ozone production.
Using Colorado’s data on recreational and medical CCFs within the state and the limited data available to estimate emission rates, Vizuete and his team took an emission inventory of VOCs and BVOCs from CCFs by creating seven possible scenarios that accounted for variances in emission rate data. These scenarios estimated rates in Colorado as a whole, as well as in Denver County, Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Boulder.
Denver County, which houses 41% of all CCFs in Colorado, produced the highest results. The concentrated presence of CCFs in the area produced BVOCs at rates that were high enough to affect the local atmospheric chemistry and air quality, especially at night.
These results, while uncertain, highlight the need for further and more detailed analysis of how the cannabis industry could affect regional air quality in Denver. The models show that ozone levels are responsive to emissions from CCFs. However, emissions are too uncertain to fully understand the significance of the impact on ozone and the implications on the state’s strategy to address Denver’s ozone nonattainment status and health outcomes in the area.
“Denver’s change in status puts more scrutiny on all emission sources that could contribute to ozone in the region,” Vizuete said. “I hope this study highlights the places where more study is needed so we can understand the significance of this new industry.”
Vizuete has been collaborating with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Energy (CDPHE) to design a field study that will measure inside CCFs to further understand their emissions. This field study was recently completed, and the team is beginning to analyze the data for future use.
You thought your pot came from environmentally conscious hippies? Think again. The way marijuana is grown in America, it turns out, is anything but sustainable and organic. Check out these mind-blowing stats, and while you’re at it, read Josh Harkinson’s feature story, “The Landscape-Scarring, Energy-Sucking, Wildlife-Killing Reality of Pot Farming.”
Know the truth about how illicit drug crop cultivation, drug production, trafficking, and drug use all contribute to the global degradation of the natural environment.
This is your wilderness on drugs.
National Geographic: April 8th 2019-
Despite changing marijuana laws, illegal grow sites threaten protected land in California. These experts are trying to stop it.
Potential Regional Air Quality Impacts of Cannabis Cultivation Facilities in
2 Denver, Colorado
2019 study published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics discussion shows “(t)he legal commercialization of cannabis for recreational and medical use has effectively created a new and almost unregulated cultivation industry. In 2018, within the Denver County limits, there were more than 600 registered cannabis cultivation facilities (CCFs) for recreational and medical use, mostly housed in commercial warehouses. Measurements have found concentrations of highly reactive terpenes from the headspace above cannabis plants that, when released in the atmosphere, could impact air quality. Here we developed the first emission inventory for cannabis emissions of terpenes. The range of possible emissions from these facilities was 66-657 metric tons/year of terpenes across the state of Colorado; half of the emissions are from Denver County.
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