Imagine for a moment a world where Cannabis is poison. Where the people that use Cannabis are lost to the ways of the Diablo. A world where the cultivators of this ‘gateway drug’ are criminals and worthy of nothing but jail time and the life of a lower class citizen. Where Cannabis distributors are viewed as ‘dealers’ and ‘pushers’. In the not so distant past this was the scenario for most of the world. In fact, when we travel outside of our Cannabis ‘bubble’ this is still the mindset for many people, politicians, law enforcement officers and educators.
Thankfully, today there is a large movement worldwide to understand this plant and its medicinal, spiritual, recreational and industrial benefits. The Cannabis community is seeing a period of recognition, embracing and curiosity that has not been present for at least 100 years when international laws began to criminalize the plant and its users.
Cannabis has been found in the tomb of King David, been used by Sadhus in India to give praise to and quell the sometimes destructive nature of Shiva, was used to make the sails of voyagers looking to ‘discover’ the New World, was made into paper to write things such as the U.S. Constitution and was one of the main products used to make and run some of Henry Ford’s first vehicles.
Throughout time Cannabis has played a role in the development of humankind and today we face a new Era of role play. Throughout the world we are beginning to see the emergence of new laws that allow for its medical and recreational use as well as an all-out decriminalization of the plant and its attributes.
The global dam of Prohibition has begun to leak and the impacts of the flood will change the face of the planet as we know it.
Medical and recreational laws have been set in place in more than half of the US. Canada allows for its medical use and have begun the motions for nationwide recreational use. Israel leads the way for medical research and countries such as Uruguay and Jamaica have legalized its use in hopes to reduce organized crime.
It is no longer a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ we will see the full emergence of the Cannabis industry.
Today’s growth curve of the demand for Cannabis products worldwide is astonishing. In turn the need to supply these products and the impact of doing so is astounding.
Historically Cannabis production, distribution and consumption have been illegal so everything had to be done in a very discreet way with people not being aware of who produced it or where it came from. Methodologies for its cultivation and dispersal were not always done in the most efficient or responsible ways because of fear of being discovered and arrested.
That said, the Cannabis industry has managed to flourish globally and the ability to purchase it exists, in one way or another, in just about every corner of every country on the planet. That means people have figured out ways to grow it, traffic it and the monies used to buy and sell it and get it into the lungs of consumers globally without the assistance of legal means of transportation, banking, security or agriculture processes.
Unfortunately, this new boom in the Cannabis sector is not necessarily being rolled out in the most conscientious and responsible ways. In many scenarios globally Cannabis is not being grown where and how it should be but where and how the laws are allowing it to be cultivated.
This coupled with inexperienced growers, Prohibition-era grower mindsets and investors focused solely on the bottom line has created a scenario making the industry experience a race to the bottom. Who can produce the most, at the cheapest with the largest margins and shortest R.O.I.s with no regard for its impact on the local community or the environment.
In the 70’s and 80’s laws pushed outdoor growers inside under grow lights to hide their crop and protect their freedom. For many that did not grow before this time indoor cultivation became the only method of cultivation they knew and saw. Sun grown Cannabis gained a reputation as not being so good mostly because people had to hide it in the shade and canopies of trees and were not able to create the ideal environment for it to be able to grow.
Today in California more than 9% of the energy use in the state is used for indoor cultivation. From recent reports about 1.5% of the total energy consumption in the US is used for indoor Cannabis cultivation. Many states have laws mandating that the plant is not an agricultural product and therefore has to be grown indoors in industrial zones further increasing the energy demands of the industry.
Many growers without the knowledge of how to grow in an organic, soil based environment grow with synthetic fertilizers and spray the plants with harmful pesticides and fungicides. Soil based beneficial microbes are removed from the equation and what is being sold as medicine is deficient of a holistic, fully realized medicinal herb. If sprayed with these harmful products not designed for incineration, concentration nor human consumption it can lead to the finished product actually being poisonous and potentially damaging to the well being of its consumers.
Fortunately, there is a new Cannabis renaissance, to borrow the phrase from Julie Chiariello of The Highway/Skunk magazine, occurring worldwide with California as its epicenter. The Cannabis community’s dedication to organic based cultivation and its responsible methods of cultivation either directly under the Sun or in light deprivation greenhouses are reducing the footprint of cultivation and delivering a natural, clean, safe and effective product for human consumption regardless of one’s reasons for consuming it.
Cannabis competitions such as The Emerald Cup in California focus on Sun grown, organic flowers and solvent-less concentrates. In 2016 in Northern California this 2 day sold out event hosted over 25,000 people and received over 1500 entries into the competition ranging from flowers and concentrates to salves and edibles.
The sustainable and regenerative Cannabis farming movement is under way and today there are certification companies such as The Cannabis Conservancy, TCC, that assure consumer safety and responsible agricultural practices in the regulated marketplace.
These leading certified farms have the ability to tell the story of their company values, cultivation practices and what separates their products from other less integral ones available creating a value added product. By using sustainable cultivation methodologies, they are producing the highest quality, most effective products available in the market today and reducing their overhead doing so further increasing their profit margins.
It’s a classic example of the Triple Bottom Line. People, Planet, Profits. In today’s world, business is the religion that makes things happen. Ultimately, the consumer holds the power by voting with the money they spend every day. Businesses won’t produce what consumers don’t purchase.
Embrace the power of your spending ability and support the businesses that share your values and are creating the world that you want to live in as well as the world that you want your grandchildren’s grandchildren to live in.
Regardless of why someone chooses to consume Cannabis it is medicine. Cannabis consumers deserve the ability to procure medicine that was grown in a clean, holistic manner with respect to the environment and community in which it was produced. Business runs the world and Cannabis has the ability to bring the innate consciousness of it and the people that consume it into this world of business. Together Cannabis and the ones involved in its production, distribution, investment and consumption can lead the way to a sustainable future for many generations.
*A big thank you to Jonathan Valdman for this piece. Jonathan is an entrepreneur, consultant and one of the Cannabis industry’s most recognizable experts on permaculture, sustainability and Best Management Practices. He has been farming organically for over twenty years. Visit Forever Flowering Greenhouses for more info.