Region: Eastern Cannabis Business Conference
Environmental Sustainability in the Cannabis Industry
By Kaisha-Dyan McMillan
December 2, 2019

Environmental Sustainability in the Cannabis Industry

The steady rise of cannabis legalization comes at a time when the climate crisis has reached its tipping point. As an agricultural product that relies upon heavy water use for outdoor cultivation and significant electricity for indoor cultivation, produces a large amount of waste, and has been required by law to adopt childproof packaging and other single-use plastics before reaching the consumer, cannabis is already proving to have a negative impact on the environment. Yet while the high cost of managing a business in a sector as heavily regulated as this one can make implementing large-scale changes challenging, the cannabis industry has long held a reputation for working to implement its own sustainable practices in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint. 

As the Northeast prepares to become the next emerging cannabis market, we explore different ways individual jurisdictions and cannabis business owners have addressed making environmental sustainability a priority.

Creating A More Environmentally Sustainable Industry

Since legalization exists under a state-led model, the industry has looked to individual jurisdictions for help with the creation of environmental best practices. Massachusetts’ energy guidance, for example, stipulates that cannabis businesses must demonstrate compliance in the areas of energy efficiency, renewables, electricity demand reduction, and engagement with state energy efficiency programs. With a focus on educating the consumer, Denver established a set of guidelines that clarify for consumers which cannabis packaging is recyclable. And with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp has returned to the spotlight as a potential source for biodegradable plastic, sustainable building materials, and a number of eco-conscious applications. 

In the meantime, cannabis business owners and operators are working towards greater sustainability by activating their own initiatives. Replacing outdated lighting technology with newer, better full-spectrum LED lights, for example, helps improve energy efficiency in indoor cultivation – which represents a reported annual energy expenditure of $6 billion. Individual brands aren’t waiting for regulators, opting instead to establish their own recycling programs to address post-consumer waste(1), and even refining existing technology to be inherently childproof, reducing the need for separate protective packaging(2).

Join us Thursday, February 20, 2020 when we continue the conversation during the educational session, “Environmental Sustainability in the Cannabis Industry,” at the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Northeast Cannabis Business Conference. Formerly Seed to Sale Show, #NECannaBizCon is the premiere cannabis trade show to focus on the emerging Northeast market. Entrepreneurs are invited to explore emerging business opportunities, expand their East Coast network, and learn from the most up-to-date regional insights... Meet with NCIA members, entrepreneurs, policymakers, industry leaders, and services providers on 40,000 square feet of expo floor when it all happens February 19-20, 2020 at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center – Registration is now open!

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