The cannabis industry is growing at an incredible rate, with more and more people producing, using, and investing in marijuana products every day. While most of these individuals are doing so for recreational use, some still believe that medical benefits can be found from smoking or ingesting CBD or THC.
Many claim that cannabis has positive effects on the environment by reducing energy consumption and saving resources during production. These include arguments like how hemp is a renewable source of fiber and oil, and it does not require large amounts of water to grow.
However, there are also negative environmental impacts related to cannabis cultivation. These include concerns about air and water pollution as well as waste generation. There have been several studies done on the chemical content of cannabis plants and their byproducts, which have revealed harmful chemicals such as pesticides and heavy metals.
This article will discuss the various issues surrounding the sustainability of the cannabis industry, what initiatives exist to help mitigate those problems, and why it is important to keep up regular plant maintenance. It will then close with some final thoughts on how you can contribute to making the cannabis market more environmentally friendly.
Medical uses of cannabis
As mentioned earlier, medical marijuana has been used for centuries to help treat everything from pain to sleep disorders to serious health conditions like cancer. But what people may not realize is that using weed for medicine also helps preserve our natural resources.
Medical marijuana can be quite expensive due to the high cost of producing and administering it. One way to lower the price is to grow your own!
Many hospitals and clinics have large amounts of unused pot because they are able to get it for free or very cheap. By growing your own, you can save a lot of money!
You will need to know how to identify different strains of cannabis, which nutrients must be extracted and purified, as well as where to store all of this material after it’s done curing patients.
Popular recreational drugs
What are your favorite cannabis products? Maybe you love some of the oils or edibles, or maybe you like smoking flowers or salves. But how much environmental impact is there from producing and using marijuana?
The production process for most marijuana products includes extracting raw materials such as dried flower, oil, or gel form plants of the cannabinoid genus (think: hemp) and then processing those into medicine or merchandise.
There are many ways to extract these cannabinoids, so it’s important to know which ones use less energy and produce minimal waste. The way that product companies implement environmentally friendly practices varies depending on what stage of production they’re at, but we can learn something by looking closer at the two major categories: extraction and dosage-form manufacturing.
Most people are familiar with the term “extract” when it comes to cannabis, but what does that actually mean? An extract is just the material extracted out of a plant. For example, when making kief — the very fine bit of weed dust left over after grinding down dried herb – what kind of machine you use to do this makes a difference in whether or not it contains harmful chemicals.
Some machines have special screens built in to filter out heavy metals and other toxins; others don’t. Unfortunately, neither type requires too high of a pressure to work, so any company could still be creating unsafe extracts.
How cannabis affects the body
As mentioned earlier, marijuana is made up of hundreds of compounds called cannabinoids. There are also other non-cannabis substances found in the plant, such as fats and oils that can be removed during processing.
Most people are aware of two major active compounds in marijuana – THC and CBD. Both play an important role in cannabis medicine, but there are many others.
Thymeleosine and linalool are just a few examples of additional chemicals in the cannabis extract you use. Others include myrcene, oleyl alcohol, hexane, heptane, acetic acid and glycerol.
Some studies have shown that these additives may not be harmful to health when used at low concentrations, but research is needed to determine their safety levels.
Too much exposure to some or all of these chemicals could pose risks, so using pure cannaboids products and/or switching brands for the same product is one way to limit your exposures.
While most of these chemicals occur naturally elsewhere in nature, researchers cannot confirm if they cause any environmental effects.
There are several theories about how certain ones affect the environment, including possible toxicity, hormonal activity, chemical reactions or physical changes.
No one knows with certainty what the “safe” level is for each individual compound, nor whether it takes only one heavy exposure to become environmentally problematic.
Effects of cannabis plants on the environment
As mentioned before, one of the biggest issues with consuming marijuana is its leftover waste. This includes burnt remains of the plant material (such as spent bongs), excess hairs that are too long to burn off, and general trash such as empty containers and plastic bags.
In fact, the average person can produce around 2-4 pounds of trimmings every week! The problem with this is that most cities do not have adequate facilities to dispose of all these materials.
Some landfills will accept certain types of medical waste, but none accept raw cannabis or dried up plant matter. Many state governments also forbid dumping of solid wastes at disposal sites, making it difficult to recycle the parts of the weed.
This poses a major environmental concern because lots of energy is needed to process and treat the garbage. In some cases, it may even be illegal to discard it in the wrong place.
Ways to reduce environmental impact
One of the biggest factors in how much energy it takes for cannabis plants to grow is whether or not they are grown using natural sunlight, greenhouses, or artificial light. Natural sunlight produces the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions as well as less electricity needed to power the lights.
If you’re growing weed outdoors, make sure to use solar panels or other ways to gather energy from the sun! This is especially important during winter months, when there is limited exposure to sunlight.
Artificial light is very expensive to run, which is another reason that most marijuana growers opt for the latter. There are many lighting systems that can be found online and in stores that are cost-effective and efficient.
Some more eco-friendly alternatives to traditional fluorescent bulbs include LED strips and florescent tubes, both of which produce far less harmful chemicals.
Tips for cannabis consumers
As mentioned earlier, marijuana can have some very positive effects, but it also has some significant environmental impacts. The main one being greenhouse gas emissions.
The reason why this is an important topic to address is because of how popular marijuana has become. Many people enjoy smoking weed so much that they develop addictions which increase the amount of smoke emitted.
Furthermore, marijuana growers are becoming more efficient with their equipment use and the number of plants in each crop, both of which contribute to increased green house gases.
This article will go into more detail about the different ways marijuana users can reduce its negative impact on our environment.
Medical marijuana licenses in the U.S.
As mentioned earlier, medical cannabis is still illegal at the federal level. However, that doesn’t stop individuals from producing or using it themselves.
There are several ways to use cannabis as part of your health care regimen-smoking it, ingesting it, applying topicals (the use of cannabis oils for topical applications) on affected areas, and vaporizing it.
All these methods can have varying levels of THC, the compound in cannabis that makes people feel high. Some modes of usage may be safer than others for you – just make sure you know what each one does!
Smoking is probably the most common way to consume cannabis. When smoking weed, there are two main things that can happen: The smoke either gets filtered out by your body or comes into contact with chemicals in your mouth and your lungs.
Either way, this process usually occurs quickly, making the effects short. Because of the potential hazards of smoking, some doctors recommend other more safe alternatives.
Using CBD oil instead of smoked cannabis has become very popular due to its non-psychoactive qualities. By eliminating the psychoactivity, patients are able to enjoy the benefits of cannabidiol without getting too “high” on their own medication.
For this reason, many people choose to use CBD oil exclusively. While not completely risk free, studies show that CBD is much less likely to pose serious health concerns than regular dried cannabis.
History of marijuana use
The cannabis plant has been used for thousands of years as medicine, food, and a source of intoxicant. It is most well known today for its recreational uses.
The word cannabis comes from the Greek term kannabis, which means “hemp” or “fiber crop.”
In fact, it was in ancient Egypt that hemp received widespread recognition and cultivation. There are references to using hemp in medicines and foods there!
Hemp crops have traditionally been grown in Europe and Asia where they remain popular due to their quality fiber.
Since the 1970s, however, American farmers have increasingly turned towards growing high-yield, short duration strains of cannabis. These types of plants require intensive pesticide and fertilizer use to grow quickly. (High yield does not necessarily mean higher quality, though!)
History shows us that overusing pesticides can be harmful to people and the environment. In addition to harming human health, excessive amounts of pesticides can damage the soil and water systems we depend upon for life.
Thoroughly studying the environmental impacts of cannabis production is important if we want to preserve our natural resources for future generations.