The legalization of marijuana has brought countless benefits to local communities, from additional tax revenue to reduced crime rates. But there have been some challenges with legalization, as more growers flock to legalized states trying to make their fortune in cannabis. This influx of growers has strained the earth's ecosystem, so many activists and farmers alike are promoting sustainability in the industry. |
Water is the main natural resource used in cultivating the marijuana plant. One single plant can drink up to six gallons of water a day, so it's easy to see why water usage in California and other lush grow spots has increased exponentially as new growers have moved into those regions. The Emerald Triangle, one of California's most popular regions for growing cannabis, has been hit hard by the rapid increase in water usage, as evident by altered stream flows and displaced wildlife. As farmers in the Emerald Triangle and other regions have become aware of their impact on the land, many have dedicated themselves to practicing and promoting sustainability and environmentally responsible farming practices.
It's not just water use that growers need to consider; the use of pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals are harmful to the ecosystem as well. Pesticides and other toxic chemicals help farmers protect their plants at the expense of local wildlife, but many growers don't realize how those chemicals affect the ecosystem. Pesticides seep into the earth, where they make their way into streams and other water supplies, harming fish and the animals that feed on fish. In turn, birds and other animals that prey on them are exposed to chemicals, and the entire food chain is affected.
Some farmers find that the best way to practice sustainability is by re-using water and other natural resources to minimize waste and conserve energy. One way they do this is by collecting and storing rainwater to be used on cannabis plants instead of drawing from local rivers and watersheds. A little effort by growers to collect rainwater in barrels or silos could help restore water flow and the habitats of fish and wildlife. Other growers practice sustainability by eliminating the use of toxic chemicals on their plants. Some farmers are even incorporating organic fertilizer, windmills, and solar panels into their farming practices.
Medical marijuana patients and recreational users in some states are able to contribute to sustainability in the industry by growing their own plants. Some states allow patients or users to produce just enough for themselves, without producing an excess of product that would stress the earth. This practice also allows users to stop making trips to the dispensary, another small step that reduces the ecological footprint of the marijuana industry. Each state has different regulations for growing, so this is not a feasible option for every patient.
In order to prevent having a negative impact on the environment, every farmer must accept responsibility for their own growing habits by making environmentally responsible decisions and encouraging other growers to adopt sustainable farming practices as well.
To learn more about sustainability, you can visit http://ecofirmafarms.com/sustainability.php.
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