Originally published for Techcrunch on November 18th, 2021
For most of the world’s industries, sustainability is an exercise in correcting the mistakes of the past — from changing mindsets to the very machinery used.
But for the fledgling cannabis industry, there is still hope. A slew of startups and industry bodies are trying to make sure that for once, an industry starts off on the right path.
“What I have seen across Fortune 500 companies is, they’re trying to improve efficiency to reduce the environmental impact of operations that already exist,” said Annie Davis, vice president of marketing for Flow Cannabis Co, an outdoor cannabis cultivator. “But what if, from the start, we could build a different model?”
That would be ideal. However, even though cannabis as a legal business is only about a decade old, it still has a long history of illegal cultivation that set a precedent of avoiding the cops rather than saving the planet. Moreover, that has meant that cannabis cultivation has missed out on the massive advancements in traditional agriculture.
“The agricultural research that’s related to cannabis is anecdotal and driven from its history as an illegal product. It hasn’t benefited from the level of research that traditional agricultural products have,” said Shawn Cooney, co-founder of the Sustainable Cannabis Coalition (SCC), a coalition of 20 cannabis or cannabis-adjacent companies, including cannabis producer Trulieve and Flow Cannabis. “So there’s a history of using less efficient technologies.”
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