If the commitment to combat climate change is credible and sincere it should also impact the government’s regulations with regards to cannabis cultivation

Originally published in Lift News.

“We can fight climate change without sacrificing growth and prosperity. In fact, our global push toward a low-carbon economy will produce new companies, new growth, and new prosperity.”
— Prime Minister Trudeau.
World Economic Forum 2016, Davos, Switzerland

Earlier this year Prime Minister Trudeau resolved to combat climate change without sacrificing growth in his speech to the Economic World Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This is a marked difference from our previous government’s attitude towards a greener economy, and was welcomed by the environmental community.

If this commitment is credible and sincere it should also impact the government’s regulations with regards to cannabis cultivation. The current practice of indoor cultivation is driven by criminalization, pursuit of security, pest and disease management, and the desire for greater process control and yields. Once criminalization is no longer a relevant issue in Canada, would it not be responsible to pursue cultivation practices that are environmentally friendly as well as potentially environmentally beneficial?

The good news is we can fight climate change without sacrificing growth and prosperity in a very big way with the help of smart cannabis and hemp cultivation practices. It would be incredibly negligent for the Liberal government and the legalization task force not to take the environment into consideration, as the environmental impact of indoor cannabis cultivation is staggering.

Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, is aware of these impacts, as are other environmental advocates, politicians and policy makers. The sustainable cannabis movement is picking up energy in the United States and particularly in Northern California where the future of cannabis cultivation is taking on a strong environmental message. This is partially due to self-preservation but also because the cannabis farmers of NorCal are inherently committed to what is best for the planet as well as their own futures. It would be ideal for Canadian cannabis farmers to adopt a similar strategy for the same reasons.

According to a study published in the journal Energy Policy in 2012, the carbon footprint of the indoor cultivation industry in Colorado is consistently compared to the same usage as small cities. It is estimated that the energy consumption for indoor cultivation in the United States is 1% of national electricity use, or $6 billion each year. “One average kilogram of final product is associated with 4600 kg of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, or that of 3 million average U.S. cars when aggregated across all national production.” Jonathan Paige Founder of cannabis biotech company Anandia Labs and Adjunct Prof at UBC, believes that “The take-home message is that if legalization leads to an all indoor industry under HPS lights, it is going to be an environmental nightmare.”

The environment is not the first thing we think about when it comes to cannabis, but it should be. As Canada moves toward a regulated adult-use market, the consequences of decisions made by policy makers will impact future generations.

The Prime Minister also went on to say during his speech in Davos that the next industrial revolution will bring about “enormous change.” If the government implements environmentally responsible cannabis cultivation incentives, enormous change might be an understatement. The world is watching.