Sustainability in Cannabis

Sustainability in Cannabis

Have you heard anyone mention “sustainability” recently? Sustainability is more than just a politically-loaded buzzword. One definition of sustainable is “the ability to exist constantly”. Most conversations about sustainability revolve around the use of energy resources — gas, hydroelectric, solar, wind, coal, etc. For cannabis specifically, you can rank your energy usage at the non-profit site Understanding and optimizing energy usage is important. However, energy consumption is only one part of business operations.

When studying for my MBA, one of the courses was about company longevity. It was interesting to learn about companies that had existed for hundreds of years. There are over 5,000 companies older than 200 years! This is sustainable! Common themes that contribute to these long-lived companies are:


In cannabis production, the most common topic around sustainability is that of lighting source. Cannabis needs light to flower. Outdoor farms use the sun as the light source. Growing in northern Oregon, outdoor is not an option for us. Our plants are grown indoor under artificial light in a controlled environment which produces consistent, high-quality results at predictable costs.

For me, building a sustainable business means providing:

Fair and stable employment including health insurance benefits with paid time off
Consistent, high quality products our customers can enjoy and trust
Long term respectful relationships with our customers and vendors.

This perspective is broader than just energy efficiency and informs all of our decisions. Many cannabis companies are focused on making a quick return and growing at all costs. This can lead to treating human capital and financial capital as disposable — the turn and burn approach. I would rather be more conservative, build a lean, stable, profitable organization, and be positioned for long term success.