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Marijuana's Green, But Does The Cannabis Industry Follow Suit?

Associated Press

Nevada’s marijuana industry is looking to get greener.

From plastic packaging to the electricity needed to grow the plants, the cannabis industry has areas to address to lighten its environmental footprint.

The head of the Nevada Dispensary Association told State of Nevada that stakeholders are working on more environmentally friendly practices and also drafting regulations that promote sustainability

“Some of our businesses and our customers are demanding more green practices, from growing organically to switching to LED lights to using recyclable packaging,” said Layke Martin, executive director of the dispensary group. “From a regulatory standpoint, with each change that we look at in the regulations with the Cannabis Compliance Board, we should look at what is the direct or indirect impact this has on environmental sustainability.”

The Sustainable Cannabis Coalition asks, “Why aren’t brands marketing their sustainability efforts more distinctly,” and answers its question with the observation that “navigating complex legalization policies during uncertain times in a nascent industry is enough of a challenge.”

A leading member of the coalition said cannabis pioneers were so busy launching the industry and shaking things out, that attention is only now turning to improved sustainability.

“I do think that it's a progressive group of people that have launched these efforts in different states. And part of that desire to be progressive means getting ahead of things like sustainability,” said Ira Weinstein, a real estate and cannabis industry adviser. “The fact that we're having this conversation so early in the lifecycle of this industry, I think is a very, very positive development.”

One cannabis business is growing its crop outdoors, something seen in areas with milder climates but rarely in Nevada. MJ Holdings has a marijuana farm and production facility in Amargosa Valley, about 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

“I think we have something very special here, especially in Amargosa Valley, and in Southern Nevada,” said company President Paris Balaouras. One plus, he said is the water, which has “micronutrients already in it that the plant really enjoys.”

He said growing in a low-humidity environment deters insects, acting as a natural pesticide.

Balaouras said water use for a three-acre grow ranged as high as 25,000 gallons a day, but was t typically about one-fourth of that during the growth cycle, adding that the area’s water table remained high during the process.

Layke Martin, executive director, Nevada Dispensary Association; Ira Weinstein, managing principal for real estate, cannabis industries,
CohnReznick;  Paris Balaouras, founder and president, MJ Holdings  

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Mike has been a producer for State of Nevada since 2019. He produces — and occasionally hosts — segments covering entertainment, gaming & tourism, sports, health, Nevada’s marijuana industry, and other areas of Nevada life.