Right now, cannabis in the United States is a hotly debated topic. Many people are anti-prohibition citing medicinal uses, economic growth, job-creation and removing its incentive from underworld criminals as reasons for creating a legitimate, regulated cannabis industry. Others see negative impacts of legalization, believing that cannabis is harmful and prohibition only keeps citizens safe. But more and more, the consensus is moving toward the former with a new poll suggesting 93% of voters support medical marijuana and 59% support full legalization. Elections in November highlighted this trend as four states adopted medical and another four voted in favor of adult-use programs. Now a record 60% of the United States’ population live in a state that has legalized in some form.
One argument for legalization is that marijuana will continue to be around and that a regulated market is a safer market. Regulation would allow federal organizations and research groups to study the plant, determine its benefits and risks and make recommendations on how to cultivate and consume it in a healthy and safe way. This includes everything from safe cultivating practices, to improved technology on how to test for impaired drivers, to energy consumption. Which then begs the question: What will more regulation mean for cultivators?
In order to weather the impending regulatory storm, cultivators are going to have to get their ducks in a row, and soon. Facilities that already 1) have standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place, 2) document exactly what they’re introducing to the environment, 3) can consistently meet testing standards and 4) do it with minimal energy usage, are going to come out on top. While some cultivators are rushing around trying to find the time and money to implement procedures to meet eventual regulation requirements, they will inevitably fall behind those who have designed this kind of thinking into their DNA from day one. This is why we strongly recommend that cultivators not cut corners when designing facilities in the beginning.
So what areas should facilities be paying attention to and working on in order to rise above the rest?
Lately we’ve been seeing a lot of press around product not passing testing standards and coming up positive for chemicals and mold that are very harmful for humans, especially those with weakened immune systems. So, we can expect to see a lot of regulation around this going forward in order to protect the most vulnerable medical users. Cultivators are not only going to have to produce healthy, mold-free product with minimal to no chemical input (pesticides and fungicides), but they are going to have to do so repeatedly and predictably to be compliant or risk loss of income and reputation.
There are a lot of factors that go into producing consistent, healthy yields with limited pesticides and/or fungicides, but the first line of defense is always isolation. Indoor, sealed cultivation affords cultivators the opportunity to completely control inputs to the garden, protecting against outside air that can introduce pests and fungi and alter humidity levels. The next line of defense is tightly managing your environment. Many cultivators cut corners when they design facilities, installing cooling and dehumidification systems that are too small or aren’t designed with the unique needs of indoor cultivation in mind. This can lead to the temperature swings and humidity spikes that mold thrives on.
To head off these issues before you even get started, consider a Surna system for your environmental control. We have a decade of experience in both cannabis cultivation and environmental control and understand what your garden needs. Our chilled water system allows gardens to be totally sealed, while giving the cultivator complete control over the environment and making it easy to dial in specific temperature and humidity targets. It also requires no ducting, minimizing spaces for mold and pests to hide and grow.
The final line of defense is incorporating a biosecurity program for your garden. This involves everything from setting protocols, to testing, to air and surface sanitation. We always recommend that cultivators head off fungi and pests rather than try to fix it after the outbreak because crops will inevitably be lost in the process. A Surna biosecurity program is a great option for these savvy cultivators! Our program provides testing, monitoring and equipment, like the Surna AiroClean unit, to anticipate problem areas and fix them before they become an issue, leaving facilities with uninterrupted, healthy yields.
Finally, regulations will inevitably turn to the energy intensive nature of cultivation. A recent study at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that nearly 1% of the US’ energy was being used for cannabis cultivation. That is a huge percentage when you think about a) how far the industry has left to grow and b) that it’s just one industry. It is inevitable that regulations will start to encourage, or even mandate, reducing energy consumption. At Surna, we think about that a lot. We’re always working to create more efficient products and are proud to offer solutions that can drastically cut down on your power consumption while providing you with quality environmental control.
Regulations in the industry are inevitable. And with regulations will come growing pains. Some cultivators will be able to meet compliance requirements and will thrive and others won’t and will be pushed out. Thinking about how to prepare your facility for regulations today is one way to a competitive advantage. At Surna, not only do we have the cultivation and technical knowledge to get environmental control right the first time, but we also offer the sophisticated products cultivation facilities need to gain an edge in the market. Get in touch with us today so we can help you design an efficient, reliable and intelligent facility capable of providing consistently delicious and healthy crops.