In an emerging industry mired in legal ambiguities and regulatory constraints, Cannabis entrepreneurs have managed to overcome their unique challenges by adopting innovative best practices and creating sustainable solutions that could benefit every other sector of industry and society at large. At no time in history have these innovations been more necessary than they are now. Despite the prevalence of climate denial in our political discourse, most credible scientists warn that we are on the precipice of catastrophic environmental changes unless take dramatic action to reduce our carbon footprint now. Enduring the extreme climate events will be the least of our worries if we don’t. Food and water scarcity will pose even greater threats.
The irony is that unsustainable agricultural practices are among the leading contributors to the greenhouse effect responsible for climate change that will eventually lead to untenable growing conditions. The overuse of highly-toxic pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides not only emit vast amounts of carbon, the toxic runoff seeps into our precious water sources. Hemp offers one solution as a replacement for unsustainable industrial crops grown for biofuel and other non-food uses since it can be grown organically without the toxic chemicals. But what about all of the other food crops that use large swaths of irrigated land and rely heavily on toxic chemicals to grow?
As mentioned at the top of the show last week, innovation is often born out of necessity. In case you missed it, Marco Hegyi explained how cannabis cultivators operating within limited confines of indoor agricultural facilities have learned minimize water waste and eliminate the need for toxic chemicals by using hydroponic systems. While these green systems have proven to be far more sustainable, the environmental benefits of these indoor cultivation methods are too often negated by the amount of energy required to grow cannabis indoors. We’re talking thousands of watts of high-intensity lights and the industrial strength HVAC systems running at full bore to control the heat they generated. But, necessity is the mother of innovation and today, indoor cultivators have deployed broad spectrum LED lights to solve the problem. Not only to these light systems significantly reduce energy usage, they can vastly increase capacity by enabling vertical stacking in a way that would have been cost-prohibitive and environmentally inhospitable with earlier technology.
The beauty of this technology is that it could be used to reduce the overall carbon footprint of food production. Imagine localizing food supply in vertical farms that conserve water, require minimal energy to maintain and eliminate the need for toxic chemicals. If the cannabis industry made it work, why not apply it to other fresh foods? Could this technology help to increase food production capacity in regions of the world where drought and toxic or depleted soil limits agriculture? That’s the topic of today’s show and our guest, Andrew Myers, has answers.
Andrew Myers, co-founder and CEO of ProGrowTech, recognized the immense, untapped potential of LED technology as a gamechanger in agricultural use, especially as the demand for quality harvests increased within an energy-conscious climate. In what would become a pioneering opportunity for advanced LED lighting solutions, he and his team have developed efficient and uniform agricultural LED lighting for indoor growing all types of crops to help growers increase profitability, yield and energy efficiency. In 2018, he was recognized as one of Greenhouse Product News’s 40 Under 40. Prior to founding ProGrowTech, Andrew’s career spanned state and national political scenes more than 14 years. He was a political aid to many prominent policy makers, including former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. to many prominent policy makers, including former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. As one of the authors of the 2010 Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, he served as campaign manager and chief spokesperson for Proposition 203, the successful effort to make medical marijuana legal in Arizona. Following the campaign, he co-founded the Arizona Medical Marijuana Association, a 501(c)6 organization for licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and worked closely with the Arizona Department of Health Services to create the rules package that accompanied the AMMA. He also served as the Executive Director of the Arizona Dispensaries Association.
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