CBD and legalized marijuana could help the environment.
Plants are extraordinary.
They give us so much beauty, nourishment, and medicine—and few plants are more beloved than cannabis, a genus of flowering plant that produces CBD and THC, among other treasures.
There are three main types of cannabis plants: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. "Hemp" and "marijuana" are broad classifications of cannabis, with hemp generally referring to a type of cannabis that does not have psychoactive effects.
Since ancient times, the cannabis plant has been used as a treatment for mental and physical illnesses, and CBD in particular is rapidly growing in prominence as a therapeutic and relaxing force with far fewer side effects than its psychoactive sibling.
Today is 4/20, a date many know as the unofficial holiday of the cannabis plant. This Wednesday, 4/22, is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a date dedicated to celebrating our planet and our connections to it.
As many of us turn to CBD and other natural products in this time of pain and suffering, it's the perfect time to thank our planet for all that it provides us. It's also a great time to get educated about cannabis, the environment, and our relationship to them.
The Cannabis Industry Is Actually Very Bad for the Environment
Here's the bad news: The cannabis industry can actually have extremely negative effects on the environment. (Tragic, right?)
First off, cannabis plants generally use a tremendous amount of water—nearly 23 liters per day for one single mature plant, according to a 2016 document (as opposed to 13 liters for an ordinary wine grape plant). The illegal indoor cultivation of cannabis also requires tremendous amounts of energy; this process alone consumes about 3% of California's electricity usage, leaching off tons of carbon dioxide in the process.
Furthermore, spikes in demand for cannabis plants can result in habitat destruction, erosion, deforestation and other environmentally devastating activities. The chemicals used to kill rodents and pests that damage the crops can also put wildlife in danger, especially when pesticides are deregulated.
But that's not to say that we should stop growing the devil's lettuce. There are many potential environmental solutions that could solve the issue of cannabis's environmental consequences. For example, hydroelectric dams could help circumvent the problem of increased carbon emissions. Some places like Boulder, Colorado are requiring cannabis growers to offset their carbon emissions, and others are investing in energy-efficient growing techniques. Legalization could also help ameliorate many of marijuana's worst environmental consequences.
Still, if you're worried about the environmental impact of your joint, CBD might be a great option.
How CBD Can Help the Environment
For all its negative effects, some forms of cannabis cultivation can actually be quite beneficial for the environment. One form of CBD in particular, industrial hemp, can be particularly beneficial for nature's ecosystems. Out of all the types of cannabis plants, industrial hemp may be the least damaging to the environment.
Industrial hemp is a member of the cannabis family that has a lower than 0.3% concentration of THC (by dry weight). Hemp crops can help control erosion, preserving nutrients and fostering healthy ecosystems while ingesting toxic chemicals and preserving soil health. (It was even planted to reduce concentrations of toxins at Chernobyl, for example).
Hemp can easily be recycled, and it may even be a potential biofuel that could help shift humans away from their reliance on fossil fuels. Plus, because CBD is legal at the federal level in America, growers aren't forced to keep it indoors like they are with marijuana, which means that the process requires far less energy and produces fewer emissions than its more psychoactive counterpart.
This isn't to say that we should all abandon THC for CBD. Instead, we should look to hemp's environmental benefits and examine how to extend them to the entire cannabis industry.
Hope For the Future: A Greener World
Legalizing marijuana could be an important step towards reducing the industry's overall carbon footprint. If marijuana growers can plant their cannabis in glass greenhouses rather than secret basements, this would help reduce the amount of electricity needed to grow the plants in the first place.
So the point is: You don't have to let go of your 4/20 celebrations in order to celebrate Earth Day. Instead, we all need to support widespread marijuana and hemp legalization as well as regulations that pivot us away from fossil fuels, towards cleaner, greener sources of energy.
Today, as you take your CBD or enjoy the cannabis plant however you prefer to do so, take some time to kick back and imagine a better, greener world. Imagine a world where cannabis is legal in all forms.
In this world, human beings work to heal nature while being healed by it. There's no more acrid smoke in the air, except for the fumes we willingly exhale as we tend to our backyard marijuana plots. Nobody is behind bars for marijuana possession; instead, everyone has a shot at a good job working with clean energy, rebuilding the world's infrastructure so that it relies on our natural resources—like wind, water, and sunshine. Everyone is healthier and calmer, because we all have access to plenty of nature's medicine. The pandemic is over, and we're all outside together in a park, with our reusable glass CBD canisters and our joints. The new Rihanna album is playing ambiently overhead.
Dreams, dreams… but this 4/20 and this Earth Day 2020, we all need some of those, right?
In addition to nationwide legalization, Canadian officials also announced plans to eliminate the waiting time and fees required to apply for criminal possession pardons.
Canada's legalization of recreational marijuana went into effect on Wednesday morning, making it the largest such legislation to date.
The move comes months after the Canadian House of Commons passed the Cannabis Act, a measure to curtail both underage marijuana use and the high profits earned through organized crime. The first retailers opened their doors at midnight in Newfoundland to long lines of eager customers who can now legally possess up to 30 grams in public and can cultivate up to four plants in their homes. Previously, possession of 30 grams was punishable by up to six months in prison.
In addition to nationwide legalization, Canadian officials also announced plans to eliminate the waiting time and fees required to apply for criminal possession pardons. At a news conference in Ottawa, public safety minister Ralph Goodale called the decision "a matter of basic fairness."
Retailers and dispensaries must be federally licensed, but regulations will be implemented and enforced on a provincial level. Newfoundland and Montreal, for example, will allow operation of dispensaries. Toronto will not. Cannabis will be available for purchase online in all provinces, though the legal age varies from 18 to 19 in different locations.
The news is considered a big victory for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who campaigned on the promise of marijuana legalization three years ago and has been working on the legislation since 2016. It's the latest in the notoriously progressive politician's track record: he's championed the Paris environmental accord, welcomed 40,000 Syrian refugees, and has been outspoken about his pro-choice views. According to Trudeau, cannabis legalization is the next natural step to reflect the country's liberal-mindedness and evolving views on a substance already widely used by its populace.
It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana - and for criminals to reap the profits. Today, we change that. Ou… https://t.co/MKNLGgoX8r— Justin Trudeau (@Justin Trudeau) 1529453515.0
Canadians celebrated the new legislation from coast to coast, cheering as early sales were made and throwing New Year's Eve-like parties to welcome the new laws. Not everyone was riding the high, however. An op-ed published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal warned against "the known and unknown health hazards" of cannabis use, and expressed concern about how large companies, now able to legally market their products, might target younger audiences.
The op-ed reflected a general suspicion of Big Bud similar to that of Big Pharma, Alcohol, and Tobacco. Legalization is also expected to have a strong impact on the Canadian economy, drawing money from tourists seeking a legal smoking experience on top of an industry already projected to reach an estimated $5 billion by 2020.
Rebecca Linde is a writer and cultural critic in NYC. She tweets about pop culture and television @rklinde.
Have you ever wanted to grow your own pot?
Last Friday was 4/20. Maybe you took off from work. Maybe your 8am chemistry lecture was a little bit better than usual. Maybe you're a goody two shoes and you waited until you finished up all your responsibilities before taking a toke. Either way, we know you celebrated.
Don't be paranoid though, we're not judging.
Or are we? We're not. Don't worry so much. You need to relax.
Where was I? Oh yeah, 4/20. If you're anything like me, you spent a decent chunk of change stocking up for the holiday, and now your bank account isn't looking too hot. Whether you're a fancy urbanite with a weed delivery service, or you're buying from a "friend", these (extremely necessary) expenses can start to add up. Time is money and all that. With this in mind, we've decided to compile a step-by-step guide for any would-be botanists out there looking to grow their own weed, and by extension, cut out the middleman. (And, if you want learn more about how to relax and don't actually want to grow your own, there are plenty of resources for that.)
Step 1: Grow Tent
First thing you're going to need is a designated area in which to grow. This is where a grow tent comes into play. A grow tent is essentially a box made of canvas with reflective material on its interior designed to catch light. You can make your own, but if you're smart, you can buy one for around $40-$50. You'll also need outfit it with a light source, ideally either HID or LED, and depending on the size of your operation, this can cost you from $40-$250. Since this is your first time, and you're probably going to start with only one or two plants, the recommended wattage for your light source is around 250. This'll keep the grow tent from getting too hot and will also keep your budget manageable. On top of this, you'll need an exhaust fan, as well as an a carbon filter in order to eliminate heat and odor. If you buy a kit, this'll run you from $70-$100. Finally, you need a thermometer/hygrometer in order to keep track of heat and humidity. Altogether, you can probably build a decent grow tent for around $200. There are some good building guides online if you're not particularly handy.
A grow tent
Step 2: Planting/Watering/Growing
Next, you'll need a 3-5 gallon bucket (per plant) filled with an airy soil mix. Be sure to cut holes in the bottom of the bucket to account for overflow. You'll also need to purchase nutrients in order to feed your plant. When shopping, it's also important to make sure you buy feminized seeds. Unless you're conducting a major growing operation, there's no reason for you to grow male plants, as their primary use is for breeding. All of the buds that end up in your pipe or bong come from female plants.
After you plant your seeds, you'll want to bring your lights closer to the bucket rather than forcing your plants to stretch towards their light source. As your green friends grow, gradually move the lights higher up. As for the amount of light your plants should be getting, you should set your lights' to be on for 18 hours a day and off for 6. Don't overwater or overfeed your plant. Be conservative at first. You can always add more food or water later.
Step 3: Trimming/Flowering/Curing
When trimming your plant, it's important to start early. Think of this as the plant's daily maintenance. If space weren't an issue, or if you owned a farm, you could probably let your plants grow as nature intended, but if you're using a grow room, you have to optimize every available inch. Trimming excess branches and twigs is a great way to make space.
Since nutrients typically come in vegetative and flowering mixes, when it's time to induce flowering, it's important to switch the way in which you feed your plant. Your plant will need to grow for about 4-8 weeks (longer if you want bigger yields) before it's ready to flower. That said, with a grow tent, you're in complete control. When you're ready to induce flowering, just switch your light cycle to 12 hours on and 12 hours off. Flowering will take an average of 8-12 weeks (here's a handy timing chart).
After your plant is done flowering, (8 weeks for Indica, 10 weeks for Sativa) it's time to start trimming. A good way to tell if your plants are ready for harvest is to take a magnifying glass and look for glittery, crystalline structures on your buds. Pictured below:
Once you've harvested your buds, you should hang them up for about a week to dry them. Don't leave a fan blowing directly on them, but make sure the air is circulating to prevent mold. Once the buds are sufficiently dry, remove them from their branches and put them in jars. The buds won't be completely done drying though, and you will have to periodically open the jars to allow the condensation to evaporate. Do this for about three weeks, and you will be rewarded with an ample amount of perfectly cured weed, probably around 3-5 ounces per plant.
A DIY solution to drying weed
Step 4: Enjoy
I'm sure you're already pretty well-versed at this part, but it goes without saying that you should reward yourself for a job well done. Growing weed is tough. Kick your feet up and put on a movie. Or, you can always just be like those not as hardcore and buy CBD tinctures!
Enjoy at your own pace