What’s up with cannabis and the environment? From air, water, and nutrients, to packaging, waste, and pesticides, the cannabis sector is fraught with sustainability challenges. This episode of Conversation With Environmental Disruptors features Kaitlin Urso, a cannabis environmental consultant based in Denver, Colorado. Within the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Small Business Assistance Program, Kaitlin works on the ground with growers and businesses to implement a strategy to drive sustainability in cannabis.
Today, 33 states have legalized cannabis for medical use --- 10 of these states, in addition to Washington DC, have also legalized cannabis for recreational use. Just ten years ago, only 13 states had legalized medicinal cannabis. Recreational cannabis wasn’t legal on the state level until 2012, with Colorado and Washington state forging the path. This year alone, Forbes predicts nine additional states could legalize recreational cannabis use.
The cannabis industry is transforming rapidly. But what does this mean for the environment? Back in 2017 ELI’s Director of Technology Innovation and Environment, Dave Rejeski asked Is Marijuana the Next Big Thing? and considered some of the environmental implications of this fast-growing (pun intended) industry. In this episode Kaitlin Urso (cannabis environmental consultant at CDPHE) and Azi Akpan (science and policy analyst at ELI Innovation Lab) digs into some big sustainability questions, exploring the priorities, challenges, and obstacles to driving sustainability in cannabis. Last month, Kaitlin Urso led an air quality project to collect data on four cannabis farms, to track volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emissions across plant types, sizes, ages, and growing conditions. Read the Science Magazine article here.
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