Prior to the recent decades of violent police raids, cannabis was produced completely and unapologetically outdoors. Unfortunately, since prohibition, outdoor cannabis grows have garnered a modern-day reputation for producing lesser quality buds. At Embarc we know this misguided grading couldn’t be further from the truth, which is why you can find incredible sun-grown cultivars from craft cannabis brands in each of our shops. With that being said, we thought we’d take a deeper look into the beauty of sun-grown cultivation.
Before diving into the “Indoor versus Outdoor Cannabis” debacle, let’s briefly brush up on how we’ve gotten to this point together.
Nature Gets Regulated
Believe it or not, America once had a booming hemp industry. Before the early 1900’s, cannabis (also known as hemp) was a common crop that grew throughout the United States and the rest of the World. In fact, for the majority of our country’s history this plant has been considered a highly respected triple-use crop; meaning it can be used as a fiber, a medicine and still be safe for human consumption. However, after years of racist propaganda crafted by government official Harry J. Anslinger cannabis went from being a triple-crop commodity to being negatively associated with Mexican families residing in the U.S. at that time. From this seed of prejudice the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was created under which the importation, cultivation, possession and/or distribution of cannabis were regulated. Once passed, the statute effectively criminalized cannabis by restricting the possession of the “drug” and only allowing for authorized medical and industrial uses to individuals who paid an excise tax on the plant. Again, prior to this legislation, cannabis was cultivated and traded freely across borders like most consumer goods.
Unfortunately, federal policies tightened even more in 1971 when cannabis was officially deemed a Schedule 1 drug thanks to the Controlled Substances Act. The barbaric ruling was the final nail on the ‘cannabis coffin’ our government needed to possess full control of the entheogenic plant. Not only did classifying cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug rob the public of an ancient knowledge bestowed through nature, it also prevented aid to those who would have benefited greatly from its healing properties.
Cannabis prohibition might’ve seemed like a win for the government, but in reality it just moved farmers out of the sunshine and into the shadows of undisclosed locations and dark seedy basements. The irony of prohibition is that cannabis growers actually became smarter and craftier due to the harsh restrictions they faced. Growers quickly learned how to cultivate quality cannabis by artificially replicating the precise environmental factors needed in order to execute a near-perfect crop. Since then, indoor cannabis grows have been dominating the market with trichome-covered flowers, high THC percentages, and bioengineered genetics consumers will literally hunt for.
i’m gonna soak up the sun
One of the insidious repercussions from prohibition is the negative impact indoor cultivations have on the environment. By labeling cannabis as a schedule 1 drug, the government disrupted a multiple millennia-long relationship between humans, cannabis and nature causing unforeseeable consequences. The truth is our advanced technology, love for convenience and desire for perfect cannabis comes at a steep price. According to information from New Frontier Data, indoor cultivators use 18 times more energy to produce a single gram of cannabis than outdoor cultivators. Plus, the study claims indoor cultivation produces nearly 25 times more carbon than outdoor cultivation – a jarring statistic for an adult marketplace that relies heavily on indoor productions. According to licensing data released by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, only 41% of cultivation licenses issued throughout the state pertain to outdoor grows, with several counties banning outdoor cultivation altogether.
After developing 40 acres of land in Humboldt Country into an active cannabis farm for over a decade, Tina Gordon, founder of Moon Made Farms, shares her insight on sun-grown cannabis and its relation to the consumer experience. “Sun-grown cannabis offers consumers the purest possible expression of this plant grown in a natural habitat, as nature intended. If you consider the epic history of this plant on the planet, there’s been a synergistic relationship between cannabis and people for thousands of years around the globe. These plants were indiginous to Central Asia and from there migrated around the world, and only in the past 4 decades has this plant been grown indoors as a byproduct of advanced cannabis prohibition” expresses Gordon… and she’s right. A study published by Vegetation History and Archaeobotany traced the origins of Cannabis to Central Asia approximately 28 million years ago! Biogeographers from this study were able to indicate that cannabis evolved along the Tibetan Plateau, an area of about 965,000 square miles, and ultimately began to spread throughout India and China from there.
Gordon continues “these ancient plants were naturalized to various regions where open air pollination encouraged diverse and balanced expressions, many of which contained both CBD and THC (among at least 60 other cannabinoids) with unique terpene expressions depending on place. Since this plant has been grown indoors, there’s been increasing value placed upon THC dominance. The market emphasis on THC dominant genetic selections along with breeding for high THC characteristics dismisses the 60 plus other cannabinoids, terpenes profiles, and the combinations of all of these precious naturally derived chemicals to the detriment of the consumer. Presently, the consumer is offered only a fraction of this value and benefits this plant offers”. Again, she makes another fair point. What Gordon is referring to is known as the “entourage effect” in cannabis. It’s a widely used term to describe the powerful medicinal occurrence derived from using all of the cannabinoids together, rather than isolating a single one, like THC for example.
Plus, isn’t there something to be said about the natural intricacies of Mother Nature that add a certain magic indoor grows can’t copy? “Full spectrum sun, the subtleties of the night sky, rain caught water, natural air flow, inputs from the land, and natural temperature differentials all influence the expression of this plant that produces cannabinoids and terpenes in response to both the genetics grown and the environment they’re grown in. Sungrown regenerative farmers respond and work with the natural forces to encourage plants toward optimal expressions. Everything about regenerative farming enhances the health of the land and contributes to the health of the planet. By contrast indoor cultivation relies upon energy intensive light sources that are made from materials that will end up in non reusable waste streams. Also, indoor mediums and inputs primarily rely upon synthetic inputs including synthetic pesticides” said Gordon.
Luckily, thanks to sun-grown companies like Moon Made Farms, there’s still hope for sustainable cannabis cultivation to go mainstream as we move into the future more aware of the environmental consequences, as well as more mindful of our actions as consumers.