“Marijuana” use to be a dirty word, associated with illegal drug dealers and grow houses, but nowadays, it’s a household name and doesn’t have to be whispered to avoid stares and judgement. Marijuana is a corporation, big business, with c-suite executives and busy bee workers. Companies own acres of farmland and indoor grow houses that contribute to agriculture. A prescription is required, involving physician visits. There are multiple storefronts in many states in which civilians can enter without real concern except what strand they are going to choose.
Like any business, there are risks and costs involved. Particularly, cannabis companies spend a big portion of their costs on energy, water and pesticide. More than 90 percent of cannabis grown in the United States is currently grown indoors. A recent study prepared for San Diego Gas & Electric found that the cost of electricity in indoor “grows” makes up between 20 and 50 percent of a grower’s operational expenses.
Many states where marijuana is legal are working to reduce carbon emissions from their cannabis businesses. Encouraging cannabis grow operations to invest in cost-efficient LED lighting as well as solar and even wind power. Cannabis growers also use hydroponic systems, which cultivate marijuana in a soil-less medium where the plant’s roots are suspended in water containing nutrient-rich H2O. Recently, many growers are developing their own sustainable watering systems that ensure very minimal water waste.
Cannabis plants, either grown outdoors or indoors, are vulnerable to a variety of insect pests. States with legalized marijuana programs have very specific regulations regarding the types of pesticides that can be used on cannabis, as well as the dosage of those chemicals. Violation of these pesticide regulations can lead to entire crops of cannabis being seized or even destroyed. Some growers avoid pesticides and try to use organic pest control, such as lady bugs and other insects that prey on cannabis-eating pests.
The cannabis business has evolved over time and will continue to do so as more states legalize marijuana. Two new economic analyses project the marijuana industry — for medical and recreational use — will top $40 billion over the next five to 10 years. And if cannabis becomes legal nationwide, the industry could hit $100 billion by 2050, by some estimates. I’d say its time to get into this business.