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Cannabis H2O: Water Use & Sustainability in Cultivation


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The dramatic expansions of the legal cannabis industry in recent years has led to significant advances in the way that cannabis is grown. Surging consumer demand for legal products, coupled with increasing competition, has led growers to increasingly focus on improving operational efficiency to lower costs, optimize yields, and increase revenues. While substantial research has been conducted on energy use in cannabis cultivation, the use of water is far less well understood.


With the demand for legal cannabis forecast to double in the next five years, understanding how water is currently used — and how growers can reduce its use — is key for establishing industry practices to improve industry-wide efficiency at a critical stage in the industry’s growth.


Using data collected by Resource Innovation Institute via its Cannabis PowerScore benchmarking platform and with researchers, utilities, and regulatory agencies in California and Michigan, this report explores ways that water is used by cannabis growers, establishes key benchmarks for water use across different types of facilities, identifies innovations that are driving greater water-use efficiency, and offers strategic recommendations for producers and regulators to advance water-use efficiency throughout the industry.


Given the need for more data, it should be clearly understood that the numbers presented in this report are directional rather than representative of the broader regulated industry. Likewise, this report should not be conflated with a best practices guide.

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