In Search of a Greener Future for the Weed Industry


Will the environmental impact of cannabis balloon as legalization sweeps across the country?

It’s hard to get a word in with Derek Smith. He’s winding through the crowd, shaking hands and nodding hellos across the locker-lined corridors of Revolution Hall, a hulking high school auditorium-turned-venue in Portland, Oregon. At one point, Smith stops to chat with John Plummer, the owner of Bull Run Craft Cannabis—a wiry man wearing a trucker hat and a powder-blue suit jacket over a T-shirt that reads CORP WEED SUCKS. Like many others in attendance at the 2nd annual Cultivation Classic, a competition reserved for sustainably grown cannabis, Plummer has come to see if his carefully tended bud is dank enough to earn an award.

Smith, however, has come to the event for something else entirely: hard data on the environmental footprint of weed. He’s trying to figure out exactly how much energy, water, and carbon go into producing this resource-hungry crop. In service of that goal, he teamed up with the Cultivation Classic team to ask every grower who entered the competition to fill out a six-page Web survey on their cultivation techniques. “Data is largely absent in this industry,” Smith says.

Read the full story in Pacific Standard.

Traditional cultivation techniques are energy and water intensive. But growers are exploring other methods to reduce the environmental footprint of cannabis. (Credit: Cannabis Training University via Wikimedia Commons)