Welcome to Cannabis Corner! This Week: The PR Problem with Power

December 5, 2016

Hi there! Welcome to Cannabis Corner, a weekly column starting today on the No BS Blog where we look at trending stories, topics, people, and products in the rapidly expanding cannabis industry. We won’t try and reinvent the cannabis news wheel here, but we will strive to provide our perspective as news hounds and media professionals, applying our aggressive, squeaky wheel strategies to one of the fastest growing and ever-changing markets in our country.

This week’s topic of discussion is power, particularly at the producer level. Here in Washington (and likely not news to others paying attention to cannabis policies), we have a three-tier system that divides producers, processors, and retailers into different sections of the market. A recent NY Times article took a closer look at one Washington grower and the effects of LED lighting v. traditional high-intensity (and high-power input) bulbs. Surprise, surprise: the LED lights significantly reduced the energy needed to grow the plants.

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Energy and ultimately the carbon footprint of the cannabis industry are not new topics. We see a flurry of articles a few times a year, often around this time or during the depths of winter when we see our own energy bills spike. As of January 2016, the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board reported that 53% of the state’s registered growers ran an indoor operation, and another 24% had both indoor and outdoor setups. And as the industry expands into other states like California, Massachusetts, and even medical programs in states like Florida, indoor grows will continue to be a popular trend.

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From a PR perspective, there’s a huge story to be told around environmentally conscious indoor growers and the steps they are taking to produce “clean, green cannabis.” As of today, those success stories have been reserved for outdoor, organic grows. But as cannabis continues to expand nationally, indoor folks will need to find ways to please both their customers, their books, and the environment. LED lights are expensive to install and not all growers have bought in. As Alex Cooley, co-founder of Seattle-based producer Solstice points out, environmentally friendly LED lights aren’t always able to produce the same quality of cannabis.  Sounds like there’s a technology opportunity here, too.

The stigmatization around cannabis has drastically decreased in the past decade, but in some ways is being replaced by this narrative of the reckless energy-sucking, water-guzzling indoor grower. Environmentally-conscious voters share the same side of the aisle with many cannabis advocates, and it will be important that the industry address energy and power issues heading into 2017. It’s a story I’d sure like to help our clients tell.

-Grady

 

Image #1: Grady Gausman

Image #2: California Marijuana Market

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