Culta, one of Maryland’s largest medical cannabis businesses, is getting on board with an emerging green movement in the weed industry.
The company announced on Monday it has joined the Sustainable Cannabis Coalition, a group of weed firms that promotes more environmentally friendly practices in the industry – from the way pot is cultivated to how it’s processed and packaged.
In a press release, Mackie Barch, who co-founded Culta in 2015, acknowledged the environmental challenges of cannabis production and committed to entirely eliminating the company’s carbon footprint within the next decade.
“Unfortunately, the HVAC systems and high-intensity grow lights that are essential to CULTA’s day-to-day operations come with a large carbon footprint,” Barch said.
America’s weed industry has experienced explosive growth over the last decade, turning cannabis cultivation into one of the most energy-intensive crops in the country. Today, most cannabis is cultivated indoors, which demands high-energy lighting, loads of water and powerful ventilation systems.
Every year, the U.S. weed industry spends an estimated $6 billion in electricity and emits roughly the same amount of carbon as 3 million cars, according to a 2012 study. Even home cultivation, which Maryland has yet to allow, can be energy intensive, with some research showing that growing four plants uses as much electricity as 29 refrigerators.
As part of its goal to eliminate carbon emissions, Culta said it will switch over to LED lighting and a water-based cooling system, use more renewable power, and think of more sustainable ways to package its products.
“By joining the Sustainable Cannabis Coalition, maintaining our Clean Green Certification, and continuing to make sustainability one of the core focal points of our company, we hope to offset our carbon emissions completely within ten years,” said Barch, who came under fire by activists last year for opposing homegrow. (He later changed his mind in an interview with The Outlaw Report.)
Culta’s growing operation is based in Cambridge, a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore where the company runs a 20,000 square-foot greenhouse and three acres of outdoor growing space. According to Barch, the company already employs some eco-friendly growing methods, like using organic fertilizer and growing cover crops to improve soil health.
The “craft cannabis” company is also “Clean Green Certified,” a third-party accreditation that evaluates the growing practices of cannabis farms based on USDA standards for organic farming.
Culta appears to be the first Maryland-based cannabis operator to join the Sustainable Cannabis Coalition. Other members include Trulieve, a Florida based weed giant that operates businesses across 11 states, and Akerna, a NASDAQ-listed cannabis technology company.
“We are grateful to have forward-thinking, vertically-integrated companies like CULTA join our alliance,” said Shawn Cooney, co-founder of the Sustainable Cannabis Coalition. “The cannabis industry is young and to ensure a solid future, we must act now and lead the movement to sustainability across all segments from cultivation to delivery.”