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Greener green: The environmental impacts of the Canadian cannabis industry

CSS Publication Number
Full Publication Date
September, 2024

The burgeoning global cannabis industry, particularly in legal recreational and medical markets, raises environmental concerns. This study integrates Canada's cannabis industry data, employing a life cycle assessment with primary heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) energy modeling. Six key environmental dimensions—carbon footprint, fossil fuel scarcity, metal depletion potential, terrestrial acidification, and marine and freshwater eutrophication—are examined. Indoor cultivation, though high yielding, relies heavily on energy-intensive HVAC systems. Regional factors like electrical grid efficiency and climate influence indoor production's carbon footprint, with colder regions exhibiting higher footprints from natural gas heating. Conversely, warmer climates rely more on electricity for cooling. Outdoor cultivation significantly reduces input costs and carbon footprint due to lower HVAC use but raises pest control concerns. Urgent comprehensive research on cannabis cultivation's environmental impacts is underscored, advocating for standardized carbon footprint calculations, eco-labeling, and consumer awareness. Industrial symbiosis, co-locating cannabis producers with CO2 emitters, could mitigate environmental externalities from indoor cultivation's supplemental CO2 use.

Vincent Desaulniers Brousseau
Mathieu Lachapelle
Ilies Tazi
Mark Lefsrud
Research Areas
Impacts & Burdens

Cannabis, Greenhouse gas emissions, Life-cycle analysis, Controlled environment agriculture, Eco-labeling, Environmental impact

Publication Type
Journal Article
Digital Object Identifier
Full Citation

Desaulniers Brousseau, V., Goldstein, B. P., Lachapelle, M., Tazi, I., & Lefsrud, M. (2024). Greener green: The environmental impacts of the Canadian cannabis industry. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 208, 107737.