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Environmental Sustainability in Cannabis - Lightshade Dispensary

We need to take a hard look at what our industry is doing to the planet and make a change—today.

With Earth Day approaching (Monday, April 22nd) and the global conversation around climate change heating up (no pun intended, seriously), we need to talk about the impact our industry has on the planet—and more essential—how we can change it.

The growing cannabis community is diverse. Most, if not all of us, are woke, earth-loving people, but we’ve got a challenge that must be addressed. The cannabis industry is facing a sustainability issue that threatens to tarnish the already tenuous reputation of our favorite plant. Introducing the benefits of cannabis to the planet is difficult if we are simultaneously doing harm to it.

“Unless actions are taken soon, the cannabis industry’s sky-high energy usage and wasteful packaging will undermine its green spirit and best intentions.”—Spencer J. Ward, Rooster

In a report released last year, New Frontier Data found that energy consumption by the cannabis industry is predicted to increase as much as 162% by 2020. At the time the report was published, also according to New Frontier, our industry consumed a staggering 1.1 million megawatt hours of electricity annually. To put things into perspective, that is enough energy to power over 92,000 homes for a year.

Despite cannabis being an industry based around agriculture, there are no clear guidelines for how to make it sustainable. Due in large part to the history of cannabis prohibition and resulting stigma, we have limited data to help inform industry-wide best practices specific to sustainability. And, in contrast to nearly every other industry, there has been scant publicly-funded research to define how we can produce and package cannabis in an effective, efficient, and sustainable way.

But that doesn’t mean we aren’t trying.

Some points you should consider:

  • The Denver area is home to 300 grows that account for four percent of the city’s total electricity demand.
  • As of today, Colorado gets most of its energy from coal-fired plants, making cannabis grown in our state the most carbon-intensive in the U.S.
  • We won’t know how best to approach the issue of sustainability in cannabis until we have sufficient research and data.
Lightshade Dispensary Greenhouse - Environmental Sustainability

What Lightshade is doing about engrained environmental issues in the cannabis industry

We’re not perfect. Despite our sustainable practices, Lightshade has been called out more than once on social media. We aren’t afraid to put ourselves under the microscope. Lightshade is committed to reducing our carbon footprint to ensure a better, more sustainable future, and still adhere to local regulations.

Here’s how:

  • We recently completed construction of a 40,000 square foot, state-of-the-art greenhouse. This new cultivation facility uses natural sunlight for the entire year, with artificial light added to supplement the process for 6 months out of each year. The greenhouse is cooled through water evaporation, cutting our power usage in half. Additionally, every drop of water in our new greenhouse is recycled, which enables us to decrease our nutrient and water consumption by 50 percent.
  • Our existing cultivation facilities have always and will always use organic pest control methods.
  • At each Lightshade retail location, we use LED lighting and high-efficiency climate control systems. And, our retail locations make use of single-stream recycling containers to house every piece of waste produced.
  • This year, we are switching our packaging to bags that use 85% less plastic than the drams in use today. Until we make this switch, Lightshade has partnered with Green4Green to drop recycling bins at each location, allowing customers to return their spent drams to be cleaned and reused.

This is a call to action. The time is now.

As an industry and a community, we are green for green (pun intended). We are leading the charge in developing programs and habits to support the planet and show the commitment of the cannabis industry to be a positive force for change.

Lightshade is devoted to identifying sustainability issues and taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint. Will you join us in the fight to save our planet?

Get in touch if you’d like to know more about the sustainable practices of Lightshade.