Go Green, Blow Green

An Inside Look on Cannabis at SXSW

By Ana Richie

Can people who blow green, literally go green? I explored the answer to this question at Leafly’s SXSW exhibit. Founded in Seattle, Washington, Leafly has grown tremendously over the past eight years and is proud to claim they are the world's largest cannabis information resource. The company empowers people to learn more about the legal cannabis market, connects people with dispensaries and puts a heavy emphasis on educating people about wellness and the benefits of medical cannabis.

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Leafly SXSW exhibit was nothing short of informative, creative and cozy. Posters regarding the information on the complexity of cannabis were present by the front door as well as a periodic table highlighting the different elements present in the plant. In addition, Leafly’s team had several slushy machines to tangibly demonstrate the ingredients that comprise the intricate compound of cannabis.

I chatted with Will Hyde, the Senior Matter Expert at Leafly, and he blew out the facts about Leafly, cannabis, and the strides the overall industry is making in regards to sustainability. He explained to me that sustainability is huge in the cannabis industry because not only is cannabis an agricultural product, but the industry is relatively new so there is room to build a foundation of eco-friendliness and a precedent for eliminating as much waste as possible when producing and consuming the product. Hyde told me, “I feel like there’s are few areas where the cannabis industry can improve on. This is water consumption and there’s are fair amount of over packaging with plastics.” In essence, Leafly is helping shape the narrative around producing and distributing cannabis in a more sustainable way.

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When taking a look more into the work that goes into the commercial cannabis industry in regards to indoor growing, reports conducted by New Frontier Financials in 2016 estimate that cannabis cultivation annually consumes one percent of the U.S’s total electrical output, which comes out to around $6 billion, or 1.7 million households. This stems from the energy being utilized to supply high-intensity lamps used for indoor growing performances.

With over a thousand dispensaries across the United States, it is safe to say there is an abundance of effort that goes into this industry as well as there being a high demand for the cannabis plant by consumers. As a result, the dialogue surrounding the ways the commercial cannabis industry can be sustainable will only grow with time as more people start to support the industry. Leafly, a champion of innovation and information, will surely guide people in the right direction.