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Cannabis Energy & Environment Policy Primer: For Federal, State and Local Policy Makers and Regulators


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As a policy maker considering how to regulate cannabis energy and environmental issues, you have a lot of subject matter to contemplate, from land use to air quality to resource usage. Each of these issues has connections to other issues you are likely considering in your broader cannabis policy framework, including racial and social equity, public health and constituent attitudes toward the plant’s historic association as an illicit drug.


Creating resource efficiency policies from scratch may feel daunting. Approaches and systems used for growing cannabis are diverse. Efficient equipment and strategies are evolving, and data is scarce. These factors provide challenges to government efforts to create high-performance benchmarks for equipment and resources used in cannabis cultivation around energy (lighting, HVAC, and dehumidification) water, and waste. Yet developing these policies may present opportunities for achieving meaningful energy and carbon reduction goals in your jurisdiction, continuing energy efficiency and decarbonization efforts already underway, or aligning with existing water and waste policies.


The decisions you make are important at a larger level. In a very real way, regulatory frameworks you establish, particularly those around energy use, may reverberate through many agricultural sectors well beyond cannabis into the future. For example, California’s Title 24, Part 6, controlled environment horticulture codes and standards, expected to take effect in 2023, apply not just to cannabis cultivation operations but to any “indoor” cultivation operation with a certain amount of energy load, be it a warehouse or a greenhouse, regardless of crop grown.

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