Environmental impact of cannabis cultivation


Environmental impact of cannabis cultivation includes all the environmental issues which occur as a result of cannabis cultivation.

Cannabis agriculture is a massive industry in its scope and extent, yet its environmental impact is much less researched than comparable agricultural products produced at this scale.[1] Many countries around the world are liberalizing their cannabis policy which will make the industry grow, and as the industry grows, so does the urgency to respond to special considerations in environmental impact for this industry.[1]

The history of framing cannabis production as an issue of drug use has suppressed discussion about cannabis production as a massive agricultural sector.[2] In places where cannabis is legal to product, discussing environmental impact is still challenging because so many other issues related to cannabis distract from the conversation.[2]

Indoor cultivation of cannabis is common and research intensive.[3] A 2012 study estimated that 1% of energy production in the United States is for cannabis production, giving cannabis a substantial carbon footprint.[3] That same study could not identify energy analysts or policymakers who had addressed the issue.[3] The study noted that indoor cultivation is mostly a consequence of illegality, and if cannabis were legal, then outdoor cultivation would greatly lower this use of electricity.[3]

A United Nations report compared the environmental impact of cannabis against other drugs and found that cannabis pollutes less with dangerous chemicals.[4] Cannabis production does tend to disrupt fragile and remote environments due to the farmers hiding the crop rather than using conventional farmland.[4][5]

Cannabis plants produce volatile organic compound in great enough amounts to increase the criteria air pollutants in indoor and outdoor environments.[6] This creates an occupational health hazard in areas with large numbers of plants.[6]

Cannabis in California is a frequent focus of study. One study found that cannabis production diverts water from watersheds.[7] Encroachment in public land has been a frequent occurrence.[8] Various legal pressures in California has led some production to be indoors.[9] Getting quality data in California has been a challenge.[10]

Cannabis in comparison to other crops could be an environmental benefit.[11]

There is a trend towards an increase in the number of cultivators who are using sustainable methods for growing cannabis. To improve the soil, they mainly use: special AACT inoculations, growing companion crops, and even grazing goats, which loosen and aerate the soil with their hooves, and their droppings are used as a natural fertilizer.[12]


  1. ^ a b Butsic, Van; Brenner, Jacob C (1 April 2016). "Cannabis (Cannabis sativa or C. indica) agriculture and the environment: a systematic, spatially-explicit survey and potential impacts". Environmental Research Letters. 11 (4): 044023. Bibcode:2016ERL....11d4023B. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/044023.
  2. ^ a b CARAH, JENNIFER K.; HOWARD, JEANETTE K.; THOMPSON, SALLY E.; GIANOTTI, ANNE G. SHORT; BAUER, SCOTT D.; CARLSON, STEPHANIE M.; DRALLE, DAVID N.; GABRIEL, MOURAD W.; HULETTE, LISA L.; JOHNSON, BRIAN J.; KNIGHT, CURTIS A.; KUPFERBERG, SARAH J.; MARTIN, STEFANIE L.; NAYLOR, ROSAMOND L.; POWER, MARY E. (2015). "High Time for Conservation: Adding the Environment to the Debate on Marijuana Liberalization". BioScience. 65 (8): 822–829. doi:10.1093/biosci/biv083. ISSN 0006-3568. JSTOR 90007339. PMC 4776720. PMID 26955083.
  3. ^ a b c d Mills, Evan (July 2012). "The carbon footprint of indoor Cannabis production". Energy Policy. 46: 58–67. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2012.03.023.
  4. ^ a b Armstead, L. (1992). "Illicit narcotics cultivation and processing: the ignored environmental drama". UNODC - Bulletin on Narcotics. United Nations : Office on Drugs and Crime. 44 (2): 9–20. PMID 1302602.
  5. ^ Butsic, Van; Carah, Jennifer K; Baumann, Matthias; Stephens, Connor; Brenner, Jacob C (5 December 2018). "The emergence of cannabis agriculture frontiers as environmental threats". Environmental Research Letters. 13 (12): 124017. Bibcode:2018ERL....13l4017B. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aaeade.
  6. ^ a b Ashworth, K.; Vizuete, W. (17 February 2017). "High Time to Assess the Environmental Impacts of Cannabis Cultivation". Environmental Science & Technology. 51 (5): 2531–2533. Bibcode:2017EnST...51.2531A. doi:10.1021/acs.est.6b06343. PMID 28212013.
  7. ^ Bauer, Scott; Olson, Jennifer; Cockrill, Adam; van Hattem, Michael; Miller, Linda; Tauzer, Margaret; Leppig, Gordon; Bohrer, Gil (18 March 2015). "Impacts of Surface Water Diversions for Marijuana Cultivation on Aquatic Habitat in Four Northwestern California Watersheds". PLOS ONE. 10 (3): e0120016. Bibcode:2015PLoSO..1020016B. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0120016. PMC 4364984. PMID 25785849.
  8. ^ Mallery, Mark (2011). "Marijuana National Forest: Encroachment on California Public Lands for Cannabis Cultivation". Berkeley Undergraduate Journal. 23 (2).
  9. ^ Arnold, Jessica (May 2013). Energy consumption and environmental impacts associated with cannabis cultivation. Humboldt Digital Scholar (Thesis). Humboldt State University. hdl:2148/1461.
  10. ^ Short Gianotti, Anne G.; Harrower, Jennifer; Baird, Graeme; Sepaniak, Stephen (February 2017). "The quasi-legal challenge: Assessing and governing the environmental impacts of cannabis cultivation in the North Coastal Basin of California". Land Use Policy. 61: 126–134. doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2016.11.016.
  11. ^ Deeley, Marc R. (January 2002). "Could Cannabis Provide an Answer to Climate Change?". Journal of Industrial Hemp. 7 (1): 133–138. doi:10.1300/J237v07n01_11.
  12. ^ Braslavskaia, Lana; Kudialis, Chris (September 2021). "Sustainability In The Cannabis Industry". AskGrowers.