Can Outdoor Growers Help Legal Cannabis Displace The Black Market?
Outdoor cannabis cultivation is growing in popularity so much that it is projected to outpace indoor cannabis cultivation this year for the first time.
Indoor cannabis production comes with a lot of benefits. It offers stricter control over conditions, maintenance and care, requires fewer pesticides, and yields more consistent and better-looking crops. But it does have its drawbacks, including smaller yields than cannabis that is grown outdoors—a distinction so pivotal that it could ultimately lead to the displacement of the black market. Here’s why:
How It Can Help Displace The Black Market
Despite federal legalization in Canada and a growing number of US states moving toward legalization, black market cannabis has continued to thrive. There are many reasons why it’s still succeeding, including its ability to offer lower prices and more products than what is available legally. Cannabis 2.0 is bridging the product-deficit gap now that vape pens, edibles, and topicals have officially entered the market, and experts believe that licensed outdoor growing will help to alleviate cannabis’s cost and availability.
Create Better Prices
While legal cannabis produces safer cannabis products, it hasn’t been able to match the black market’s considerably lower prices. This is largely because cannabis that is grown in gigantic indoor greenhouses requires substantially higher energy, maintenance, and equipment costs. These expenses are then passed on to consumers in the legal market. Cannabis that is grown outdoors, on the other hand, is much cheaper to produce because it doesn’t require excessive amounts of electricity, water, maintenance or equipment. These savings result in more competitive pricing in the legal marketplace, giving consumers less of an incentive to turn to illicit and unregulated products.
Supply Source for Extracts
Cannabis vape pens are one of the fastest-growing products in the industry. Meeting the demand for cannabis extracts, however, is an even greater challenge than supplying demand for dry flower. Fortunately, outdoor-grown cannabis is the ideal solution to this challenge.
Because outdoor-grown cannabis doesn’t look as aesthetically appealing as indoor-grown cannabis, many producers choose to not designate it for retail purposes. Instead, they extract it into oils and hard concentrates, such as live resin, terp sauce, Rick Simpson Oil, budder, wax, shatter, and hashish. This is literally the best-case scenario for cultivators. Not only can outdoor growers produce considerably higher yields for substantially lower costs, they are also in a unique position to supply the hard concentrates and extract market. And unlike the concentrates and extracts on the black market, which can contain any number of dangerous additives and diluents, these formulations are fully regulated and tested before they ever reach store shelves, so customers can trust that these products are safe to ingest.
Growing cannabis outdoors is not only economical, it’s also a far more sustainable and environmentally-friendly practice than indoor cultivation. Growing indoors requires significant amounts of energy, whether it’s for watering purposes, lighting, air circulation or regulating climate control. Recent figures have shown that indoor cannabis cultivation accounts for a staggering 1% of all electricity used in the US and that between 2,000-3,000 kilowatt hours of energy are required to grow a single pound of cannabis!
Cannabis that is grown outdoors consumes considerably less energy because it utilizes the sun and our atmosphere to supply all of the light and air circulation it needs. Natural air exposure maximizes growth and prevents mold from growing on the crops, while the sun presents a fuller spectrum of light than what plants are generally exposed to in greenhouses and grow ops. More robust light spectrums are known to produce cannabis crops with higher concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes, which is really all that consumers want at the end of the day.
Outdoor cultivation is also particularly beneficial for preserving soil, allowing for techniques like companion planting and ground cover that helps soil maintain its nutrients and moisture. As a result, more carbon is retained, which helps to offset climate change.
Will Outdoor Cannabis Replace Indoor & Greenhouse Growing?
As shown above, large-scale outdoor cultivation has the potential to do a lot of good for the cannabis industry and the environment. Yet, it will never fully supplant indoor cultivation—principally because cannabis grown indoors is aesthetically superior to sungrown cannabis and typically makes for a more reliable and consistent control subject for tests and studies. Fortunately, there is plenty of room in the industry for both!
The growing demand for premium vape pens and hardware will ensure the longevity and need for outdoor cultivation. The ready supply of extracts and concentrates will fuel profits for cannabis brands and retailers.
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