Vancouver is pushing to become the world’s greenest city, and cannabis consumers have an integral role to help the city achieve its goal. Greenhouse grown cannabis is poised to make a significant impact on electricity demands, but the rate of greenhouse adoption will rely on the decisions of customers. The unspoken environmental impact of cannabis production will surprise you.

Vancouver has laid out an ambitious agenda with the Greenest City Action Plan. Green buildings, zero waste programs, and access to nature are some targets of focus. Vancouver and BC have a rich history with the cannabis plant, and this history is undoubtedly woven into the fabric of the city. It’s logical then, for the Vancouver cannabis industry to ask how it can help the city reach its green goals.

BC Cannabis is a plant. Isn’t all cannabis green and great for the earth?

Isn’t all cannabis green and great for the earth?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Not all cannabis is produced in the same way, and the difference in environmental impact is immense. Thriving plants and well-fuelled photosynthesis (the action of plants using light energy to make sugar (food) from carbon dioxide and water) are desired by all growers, but different methods are used to supply the plants with the inputs they need.

Some choices are minor. For example, misting and drip-line fertigation are two ways to get plants the water and nutrients they need. These methods have unique pros and cons. The choice is often made according to a grower’s preference, and the difference of environmental cost between the two is minimal.

Other choices are major. Natural sunlight vs artificial lights are two options that can fuel a plant's photosynthesis. The difference in environmental impact between these sources is massive. Artificial lighting, and the systems needed to keep these lights cool, are both substantial consumers of electricity. Sunlight, on the other hand, is free.

At Tantalus Labs we spent long hours designing our flagship cannabis cultivation facility, SunLab, to use as few electrical lighting inputs as possible. Plant health is paramount, and creating an ideal environment in which cannabis can thrive has always been our primary goal. We looked to first principles of agricultural best practices. There’s a reason humans don’t grow tomatoes in warehouses.

The result of our problem solving led us to a cultivation system that reduces our electricity consumption by as much as 90%. Our greenhouse focus has allowed Tantalus Labs to join other leading Vancouver companies in taking the Vancouver Climate Pledge. Environmental stewardship is ingrained in our team, and we are dedicated to sustainability best practices. The vision of SunLab is one that welcomes a brighter future for cannabis.

We are not alone. Other select producers across Canada are stepping up to create infrastructure that can produce quality sungrown cannabis and reduce environmental impact. As the square footage of sungrown infrastructure increases, the ratio of cannabis produced to CO2 emitted improves. With each square foot of additional cannabis greenhouses, Canada is solidifying its place as a world leader in sustainable cannabis.

Other areas that have legalized the plant have witnessed a sharp uptick in energy consumption. Canada has the chance to leapfrog these issues and model a sustainable path forward for others.

Ask questions about where your cannabis comes from

Achieving the goal of sustainable cannabis relies on the collective advocacy of our community. Companies will produce what people want to buy. Every dollar spent becomes a voting ballot for the values of a consumer. Ask questions about where your cannabis comes from, and together we can build a sustainable future.