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Why legalising weed in the US would be better for the planet

By Jack Ramage

Jun 16, 2021

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Legalising weed may be greener than you think. The list of positives for legalising weed is getting pretty lengthy—from de-escalating the war on drugs to increasing the quality of life of thousands; generating a sizeable proportion of tax to put back into public services to expanding our understanding of the effects of the drug and lowering the potentially psychosis-inducing potency of skunk… The list goes on. Yet, if none of these reasons has swayed you in the favour of cannabis legalisation, then perhaps this one will: climate change.

Unless you’re a FOX news consuming, tin-foil hat wearing, climate change denier—it’s pretty evident that climate change is arguably one of the most prominent existential threats humanity faces today. And, as it turns out, there is reason to believe the continued federal criminalisation of weed in the US is actually contributing to climate change. Let me explain.

US cannabis production, at the moment, is not so green

A recent report by Politico explains the fact that the federal government still considers weed an illegal substance, which restricts the ability to sell across state lines. This forces legal growers in some states to use energy-intensive practices to meet the demands of fellow legal stoners.

To put things in brief: states in colder climates and with more restrictive laws are required to do most of their growing indoors—requiring a lot of energy-demanding equipment to create an artificial climate where weed can happily grow. Think of the high-powered lights, huge warehouses of bud and all the other things required to cultivate a state’s worth of legal weed. That racks up a huge energy bill that is not only costly to the grower but also has a huge cost for the environment.

According to a paper published by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), indoor cannabis production can require as much as 2,000 watts of electricity per square meter. Overall, this equates to more than one per cent of the total energy use in the US and costs about $6 billion per year. The energy output is the equivalent of adding 3 million cars to US roads—all so selected states can have their legal spliff. Crazy, right?

Weed has become the most energy-intensive crop in the country—and taking a look at the usage of a state-by-state basis proves this. According to a report from MassLive, the indoor cultivation of cannabis in the state of Massachusetts is responsible for a mind-blowing 10 per cent of the entire state’s industrial electricity usage. Likewise, in Colorado, studies have found cannabis farms to have a larger carbon footprint than its coal mines.

Now, compare this with states that have fully legalised both the sale and production of weed, which have better climates for outdoor production outside. The same paper by LBNL found that the production of weed in these states costs only 50 watts of electricity per square meter. That’s a 97.5 per cent reduction of the total energy consumption.

The argument for decriminalisation

I can hear the critics already. If weed is such a costly blow to the planet, why legalise it in the first place? Why not crack down on growers instead of venturing down the capitalistic, corporate mass-production path? Well, there is an argument there but I find it better to look at the bigger picture.

As I briefly listed at the start of this article, there are numerous societal benefits for legalising the green stuff—both economically and ethically. Disregarding the benefits this can bring and the detrimental impact criminalising a plant can have on those in society, often who are the most vulnerable, would be grossly negligent. Likewise, partially legalising weed across only a number of states has shown, and is still showing, to have a harmful effect on our environment.

If the federal government allowed weed to be sold across state lines, outdoor weed farms in certain, more temperate states—that can cultivate the plant in significantly less energy-intensive ways—would be able to expand their offerings and sell to other states. Cannabis farmers would be able to post up in these particular states, where the weed grows easily and naturally, and be able to sell to the whole country—not limited by bureaucracy and legislation.

Legalisation on a federal government level would also bring in regulations for farmers to ensure the weed is being grown in an eco-friendly way. As it stands, states are creating their own laws to regulate weed farms—some effective, others, not so much. Illinois requires weed farmers to use energy-efficient LED lights but that’s only a drop in the ocean when you consider the giant warehouses having to be built to facilitate such farms.

It’s important to note that outdoor growing isn’t the ‘be all and end all’ solution to the damage weed farming has on the environment. After all, numerous reports have shown that weed farming requires a significant amount of water—and to make matters worse, weed grows best in the states where water is the most scarce.

That being said, it’s a step in the right direction and far more eco-friendly than the colossal indoor cannabis farms that are popping up across the US at the moment. So are you listening, Biden? Let’s legalise weed completely and enjoy the high without the high cost for our planet.

Why legalising weed in the US would be better for the planet


By Jack Ramage

Jun 16, 2021

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How long does weed stay in your system? Here’s everything you need to know

By Alma Fabiani

Apr 17, 2021

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On Tuesday 20 March 2021, many of us will be celebrating 420, also known as weed day. After the year the COVID-19 pandemic made us go through, we deserve this sesh, to say the least. But, as fun as 420 is, we’re also aware that for some, smoking cannabis—and therefore having it in your system for a little longer—can be an issue for many different reasons. That’s why, in anticipation of the day, we tell you everything you need to know about exactly how long for traces of your Tuesday smoking sesh might still be detectable in your system. You’re welcome!

It varies depending on the dose you consume

Marijuana is usually detectable in bodily fluids for one to 30 days after last use. And just like with other drugs, cannabis may also be detectable in your hair for several months. The type of cannabis you consume also plays a factor. For example, using THC capsules in Canada versus edibles will have a different impact on your body and how long it stays in your system.

Weed detection windows depend on how much you smoke (or ingest), as well as how often. In general, higher doses and more frequent use are associated with longer detection times. For daily users, it may be detectable for several months after last use. The longest-reported detection times are over 90 days.

So, how long is weed detectable in your system via different types of drug testing?

Blood testing

According to an article in Therapeutic Drug Monitoring, weed is typically detectable in the blood for one to two days. However, in some cases, it’s been detected after 25 days! As mentioned above, chronic heavy use increases the length of time that it can be detected.

Weed becomes detectable in someone’s bloodstream within seconds of inhalation. It’s distributed to the tissues, while some of it is reabsorbed in the blood and broken down. Its metabolites—which are what drug testing methods will notice—may remain in the bloodstream for days.

Urine testing

Urine testing tends to be the most common testing method when it comes to cannabis usage. Weed is detectable in urine for the following amounts of time after last use:

Occasional users (up to three times a week): 3 days
– Moderate users (four times a week): 5 to 7 days
– Chronic users (daily): 10 to 15 days
– Chronic heavy users (multiple times a day): more than 30 days

Saliva testing

According to a 2014 research on cannabinoids in oral fluid, weed is detectable in saliva for the following amounts of time after last use:

– Occasional users: 1 to 3 days
– Chronic users: 1 to 29 days

Weed can enter the saliva through smoking and exposure to smoke. However, its metabolites are only present in saliva when it has been smoked or ingested, so no, your secondhand high doesn’t count.

Hair testing

Hair follicle tests assess drug use for up to 90 days. After use, weed reaches the hair follicles via small blood vessels, which is why trace amounts may remain in the hair.

“Since hair grows approximately 0.5 inches per month, a 1.5-inch hair segment taken close to the scalp can provide a window of weed use for the past three months,” writes Healthline.

Is there anything you should do to metabolise it faster?

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to speed up the amount of time it takes for weed to leave your system. Once it’s entered your system, your body simply needs time to break it down. Exercising, eating healthy, and staying hydrated may help, but not drastically.

Online, many advise drinking a lot of water to dilute your urine, and then using herbal supplements such as creatinine or vitamin B-12 to mask the dilution. These kits aren’t fully reliable.

All in all, weed may stay in your system anywhere from several days to several months after last use. Detection windows depend on the drug test used and other factors such as whether you smoke or ingest weed on a regular basis. So don’t go too hard this Tuesday if you’re worried about the aftermath of your 420 celebration.

How long does weed stay in your system? Here’s everything you need to know


By Alma Fabiani

Apr 17, 2021

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