A narrative review on environmental impacts of cannabis cultivation

J Cannabis Res. 2021 Aug 6;3(1):35. doi: 10.1186/s42238-021-00090-0.


Interest in growing cannabis for medical and recreational purposes is increasing worldwide. This study reviews the environmental impacts of cannabis cultivation. Results show that both indoor and outdoor cannabis growing is water-intensive. The high water demand leads to water pollution and diversion, which could negatively affect the ecosystem. Studies found out that cannabis plants emit a significant amount of biogenic volatile organic compounds, which could cause indoor air quality issues. Indoor cannabis cultivation is energy-consuming, mainly due to heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and lighting. Energy consumption leads to greenhouse gas emissions. Cannabis cultivation could directly contribute to soil erosion. Meanwhile, cannabis plants have the ability to absorb and store heavy metals. It is envisioned that technologies such as precision irrigation could reduce water use, and application of tools such as life cycle analysis would advance understanding of the environmental impacts of cannabis cultivation.

Keywords: BVOCs emission; Cannabis cultivation; Carbon footprint; Soil erosion; Water demand.

Publication types

  • Review