Impact of Cannabis Cultivation on Greenhouse Gases

Updated: Jul 13, 2021

It is all of our personal responsibility to our fellow people, plants, and planet to be aware of our impact on our environment. It is literally a matter of life or death. The altruistic gardener knows that a single seed planted can produce a bounty of life, and a seed destroyed can mean the death of a species. A delicate balance.

The greatest threat to our planet as a whole is the accumulation of Co2 gas in our atmosphere causing a “greenhouse effect and warming of our planet. This additional Co2 adds to the already natural warming cycle that we are currently in. The consequence of which may be an even colder ice age than ever recorded.

With this in mind, it is a noble endeavor to turn inward to ones personal impact both in business and at home.

Indoor cultivation makes sense in a lot of ways. Indoor cannabis can be produced year-round, is easily controlled, and is secure. For cannabis farmers, the largest impact on Co2 emissions is going to be electrical consumption. Especially considering that 40% of cannabis produced is done exclusively indoors. The result; cannabis production produces over 2000lb of carbon dioxide for every pound of dried flower.

A recent study titled The greenhouse gas emissions of indoor cannabis production in the United States by Hailey M. Summers , Evan Sproul and Jason C. Quinn analyzed the energy and materials required to grow cannabis indoors and quantified the corresponding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To do so they obtained hourly data, weather conditions, and intensity of emissions in the United States. In addition, they analyzed the impact of fertilizer, waste, and the emissions associated with the transportation of these materials.

As expected electrical use was the primary contributor to greenhouse gasses. The largest usage and GHG impact were in the southern US, where dehumidifiers and air conditioning were more prevalent in cannabis cultivation. Florida, sees humidity management add about 2000 kilograms of emissions to every pound of product.

Compared to emissions associated with an outdoor crop like corn which only puts out a pound of Co2 per Pound of food, indoor cannabis cultivation emits 2000 times more Green House Gases.

Of course, cannabis can also be grown outdoors. The same authors above estimate that switching to outdoor production would drop greenhouse gas emissions by 96 percent and lower Colorado's total emissions by 1.3 percent.

It is with this in mind that we must encourage local lawmakers and farmers to advocate for more lenient laws on outdoor THC cultivation as well as incentives for hemp farmers to grow outdoors. Hemp itself sequesters close to 11,000 lb of Co2 per acre in a single lifecycle. It is with this information that we can calculate our personal impact.


Without getting too in-depth it's easy enough to calculate annual emissions based on electrical consumption and heating cost as these are the two largest offenders.

For every sq foot of floor space, assuming we have an 8-foot ceiling and depending on the severity of the weather; the average requirement per square foot per year is 525,600BTU. A 300 square foot room typically requires 61320000 BTUs to maintain a comfortable temperature for a year, while a 1,000 square foot room requires 157680000 BTUs. Below are the pounds of Co2 expected from various fuels per million BTU’s.

Coal (anthracite)


Coal (bituminous)


Coal (lignite)


Coal (subbituminous)


Diesel fuel and heating oil


Gasoline (without ethanol)




Natural gas


For example, if my grow space is 8ft x 16ft = 128sqft I would need a minimum of 67,276800 BTU’s to heat the space year-round. Perhaps I only use heat half the year. So lets say 33638400 BTU’s. And I use propane. 33638400/1000000 = 33.63 x 139lb of co2 = 4675.7 lb of Co2 emitted yearly from heat consumption alone.

Factoring in electricity we must consider that each kw/h of usage will emit .92 pounds of Co2. If we would like to estimate usage specific to the grow we can add up all the wattage used and calculate the kw/hour based on that .

For example, if three lights, air conditioning, fans, and humidifiers total 2850w we can expect that 28.5kw/h will be used. 1kw = 1000w At that rate we are producing 26.22lb of co2 every hour. If we are running lights for 18h consistently year round we would produce 172265.25lb of Co2 Yearly.

At that rate we would need to plant 15 acres of hemp to become carbon neutral.

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