With the boom of growing commercial cannabis in Colorado and Washington (and the illegal grows that have been happening across the country forever) cannabis has caught a lot of flack as being bad for the environment. While irresponsible farming practices are horrible for the environment, is cannabis in and of itself worse than other irresponsibly farmed crops?
Additionally, it seems that a great deal of the ire directed at the “pot-as-the-air-polluter” idea has to do with indoor grow operations. These indoor grows can be done responsibly, but it’s more expensive to do so. I really think that marijuana cultivation should be aligned with the overall mindset of doing no harm, so I hope this non-green aspect of the Green Rush can be readily addressed.
Just to put it out there: I am by no means an expert in horticulture or environmental impact, so I’m fully willing to admit there will be flaws and holes in my logic.
The personal medical benefits of cannabis are getting more and more publicity. Well, I’d like to point out a few of the environmental benefits that cannabis can deliver.
Contrary to the anti-pot growing articles in circulation, I believe that properly stewarded cannabis plants are quite good at improving air quality and saving forests. Cannabis/hemp grows very fast and can be used for paper and construction materials. That means less trees get cut down and less forests get pillaged. One statistic out there is that every cannabis plant saves 12 trees from destruction.
Regarding air quality, I will borrow a few lines from a Cracked.com article:
“See, airports that host private planes produce high concentrations of particulate matter into the atmosphere because private planes, for whatever archaic reason, still use leaded gasoline. As a result, people who live near these airports suffer from a whole slew of diseases related to poor air quality, from asthma to COPD. This is true across the board; in every town or city in which these airports exist, people around them get sick … except one.
When the American Lung Association was compiling its Annual Respiratory Disease Report for 2013, they found that for some reason the residents around the airport in Augusta, Maine, had lungs like Wolverine. What they at first assumed was an error in the data turned out to be factually accurate, with an incredible answer: 47-year-old Marlon Cloutier was growing enough weed within the fenced property of the airport to mellow the entire state of Maine.
Not literally, of course. Maine was so outraged when they found out that they threw Cloutier in prison for it because growing weed is still illegal. But his heroic drug farm revealed a property of cannabis no one in the scientific field had considered before — specifically, that it eats up particulate matter from the atmosphere like a stoner eats up Nutella. Weed, more than any other plant, is phenomenal at cleaning pollutants from the air and creating a healthier environment for people. Although tests are only in their preliminary stages, marijuana not only is looking like it might be nature’s air filter, it’s also got the added benefit of being one of the highest oxygen yields of any plant. We could potentially be planting fields of it in every polluted city and saving lives.”
If that wasn’t cool enough, it turns out cannabis is also quite amazing at a little thing called phytoremediation (removing toxins from soil using plants). It turns out that hemp/cannabis is one of the best plants at leaching nuclear waste out of the soil. In fact, Ukrainian scientists have been using cannabis at the site of Chernobyl for years with great results. Maybe a forest of marijuana should be planted in and around Fukushima?
This plant just gets more and more awesome as the days go by. I know I am being hyperbolic when I say this, but is there anything cannabis can’t do?