By Marguerite Arnold
For all the talk about the danger of edibles consumption by minors or the unsuspecting, for all the din about compliance and regulation overall, one area that has been quietly growing into its own in the second year of legalization is the environmental impact and regulations of cannabis cultivation.
Such issues actually cover a broad gamut of discussions, with the first being the conditions of the actual growth of the plant. With a booming indoor industry in many states—in fact as increasingly required per state law in places like New York and Nevada particularly if bound for medical use—pesticide use is an issue that has been front and center since last year.
According to the consumer watchdog Beyond Pesticides, which published a report on developing state regulations last winter, state regulations are all over the place. Some are implementing regulations that use the EPA’s standards and guidelines for all pesticides. Others are suggesting that since the EPA has not issued regulations regarding such pesticides and cannabis, that they do not have to be followed in-state.
This hodge-podge approach is likely to change quickly with the advent of federal reclassification of cannabis, particularly for medical use. However, for the moment, environmental regulation, particularly in some states, is entirely dependent on local will and interest.
Beyond these issues, however, environmental factors quickly shift into a broader discussion of sustainable production practices, including energy and water use—particularly in states like Washington state and California. In fact, in 2014, the Department of the Interior specifically forbade the cultivation of legal cannabis using federally designated water supplies, impacting legal commercial growers on top of other water cutbacks. Growing cannabis on all federal land has long been deemed illegal because of the plant’s classification.
“Sustainable practices within the industry are most commonly found in production. We are seeing a big shift in lighting technologies and irrigation technologies that provide environmental and economic efficiencies,” said Steve Gormley, Chief Business Development Officer of OSL Holdings (OTCQB: OSLH). “These practices are imperative in markets like California where there is a big drought and power is quite costly. Power is a concern for many cultivators. We’re seeing an increased use of LED lighting technologies in production.”
As a result of indoor cultivation in particular now, however, there is a concerted effort amongst commercial growers to create the maximum production environment to boost yield and reduce harmful effects of production through the entire growing process.
According to Eli Bilton, CEO of Attis Trading Group and Oregon-based expert on sustainable cultivation practices, “The successful use of sustainable cultivation practices leads to a healthier garden. It protects the overall health of the plants themselves and ultimately creates a symbiotic environment in which farmer and plant can organically coexist.”
Green growing is here to stay. How such practices are implemented within states, or even at a federal level, however, remains as in the air as the impact of all federal regulations, when they come, on a trade which is now firmly establishing itself as a winner within the American economy.