Growing marijuana in large, climate controlled warehouses is good for production but has a massive carbon footprint.
- A new study finds that the kilo of marijuana can come with a carbon footprint of up to five tonnes.
- The exact value differs by state, with climate and the availability of clean energy being important factors.
- Alternatives to growing the plant in warehouses can drastically reduce emissions.
The hippies finally got their legal weed at a high cost to the environment? How Faustian!<p> The study uses a model based on the actual operating procedures of a modern warehouse-style growing system, like the kind used by 41 percent of producers who sell in the legal market.</p><p>It accounts for factors like the warehouse's HVAC system, which replaces the air in the room an average of 30 times an hour, the air conditioning, the heating, the humidity control, the lighting, the cost of producing supplemental CO2 to aid plant growth, the costs of the average irrigation system, and other elements of production and distribution. Information for different locations can be plugged in, areas with climates unsuited for growing the plant will incur higher temperature control costs, and the required electricity be calculated.</p><p>This information can be compared to the known carbon cost per kilowatt-hour in a given area. The results of feeding different information into this model can be seen on this map:</p>
The carbon price of producing marijuana in a modern warehouse by area in the 50 states and DC.
Credit: Jason Quinn et al.<p> As certain stereotypes would lead you to suspect, southern California can produce marijuana at the lowest environmental cost, caused both by a reduced need for climate control and the abundance of renewable energy in the local grid. The highest costs were incurred in Hawaii, partly due to the burning of oil to produce power on the islands and the large carbon footprint this creates. Differences across the country can be explained in similar terms, with some areas needing lots of carbon-intensive electricity to produce cannabis and others having cleaner energy or more suitable climates.</p><p>Across the country, the price of a kilogram of cannabis flowers, the part which is smoked, ranges from around two to five tonnes of carbon <a href="https://earther.gizmodo.com/indoor-weed-farms-are-hotboxing-the-planet-1846429482" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">dioxide</a>.</p><p>I spoke with several "experts" who agreed that the typical American joint has roughly .3 grams of <a href="https://www.livescience.com/55464-marijuana-average-joint.html" target="_blank">marijuana</a> in it. Using the above data, we can estimate that your regular smoke requires just over one kilo of greenhouse gases to produce, equivalent to burning an eighth of a gallon of gasoline. For <a href="https://theconversation.com/growing-cannabis-indoors-produces-a-lot-of-greenhouse-gases-just-how-much-depends-on-where-its-grown-156486" target="_blank">comparison</a>, a single bottle of beer might produce half <a href="https://www.ess.uci.edu/~sjdavis/pubs/Fat_Tire_2008.pdf" target="_blank">that</a>, and the footprint of an entire bottle of wine is only slightly <a href="https://www.ipoint-systems.com/blog/getting-it-straight-exact-carbon-emissions-from-one-bottle-of-wine/" target="_blank">higher</a>.</p>
What can be done about these emissions?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JoWg0XNE7TQ" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> The authors point out that most of these environmental costs, perhaps 80 percent, are tied to the methods used to grow the plant indoors and can be reduced by making outdoor cultivation feasible. Such a shift would have noteworthy effects on a state's overall carbon footprint. As the study says:</p><p> "If indoor cannabis cultivation were to be fully converted to outdoor production, these preliminary estimates show that the state of Colorado, for example, would see a reduction of more than 1.3% in the state's annual [greenhouse gas] emissions." </p><p>Such a switch would reduce the carbon footprint of the plant's production by 96 percent. If the change were instead from warehouses into greenhouses, the cut would be a still substantial 43 percent, and the various benefits of growing the planet inside, such as security, would <a href="https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/03/as-a-crop-cannabis-has-enormous-carbon-emissions/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">remain</a>. </p><p>Additionally, large variations between indoor operations exist as well, some of which are not fully described in the above map. In Colorado, for example, the carbon cost of growing marijuana in Leadville is 19 percent higher than it is in Pueblo, primarily due to differences in climate. If state regulations allowed cannabis grown in Pueblo to be sold in Leadville, the net carbon emissions would fall even after accounting for transportation. The same might be said for interstate sales, though that seems further off. </p><p>In the heady rush to legalize marijuana, the question of how this would impact the environment seems to have slipped past state legislatures, producers, and consumers. General efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions will have to take the production of a drug that 13 percent of American adults use each year into account.</p>
Scientists use new methods to discover what's inside drug containers used by ancient Mayan people.
- Archaeologists used new methods to identify contents of Mayan drug containers.
- They were able to discover a non-tobacco plant that was mixed in by the smoking Mayans.
- The approach promises to open up new frontiers in the knowledge of substances ancient people consumed.
PARME staff archaeologists excavating a burial site at the Tamanache site, Mérida, Yucatan.
Traces of heroin and cocaine have been found in the tartar of 19th-century Dutch farmers.
- Archaeologists can now tell what drugs our ancestors used thanks to tooth tartar.
- For this study, they tested 10 cadavers and discovered 44 drugs and metabolites.
- This new method will offer us insights into the types of drugs our ancestors used.
Credi: Сергей Кучугурный / Adobe Stock<p>This is no easy method. Tartar levels vary from person to person. As they write, the variables include "the intake of fermentable carbohydrates, acidic foods and medicines; the salivary flow rate; the endogenous concentrations of inorganic ions in saliva; and salivary buffer systems, impact calculus formation."</p><p>They also have to factor in accidental consumption or inhalation of drugs, which also leaves a record. That said, the team is pleased with the results. Archaeology has long measured cultural drug use; now they can gain insights into exactly <em>who</em> did the inhaling, which might provide information about the identity and role of the skeletons they unearth.</p><p>The team found cocaine, heroin, and heroin metabolites in the remains of these Dutch farmers, which could help Bartholdy piece together their pain management protocols. More pedestrian consumption was also found: "The common consumption of caffeine containing drinks and the widespread use of tobacco products were reflected by the investigated samples."</p><p>There are a few barriers: this particular technology is expensive and hard to access—it's not a common laboratory machine. And while tartar is hardy, not every substance is going to survive for millennia, or even years. Amphetamines, MDMA, and codeine have "low logP and plasma-protein binding," while benzodiazepines and morphine exhibit "high plasma-protein binding." The team was surprised to discover cocaine and heroin in the samples given their chemical and enzymatic instability.</p><p>That said, this research empowers archaeologists with yet another tool in their research kit. While scholars like Muraresku might not convince the Vatican to give up their vessels, we may soon have another way of discovering early Christian psychedelic usage. We should also learn more about pain management—and maybe even the pleasure of our ancestors.</p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>. His most recent book is</em> "<em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KRVMP2M?pf_rd_r=MDJW43337675SZ0X00FH&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy</a>."</em></p>
A new study on mice showed that ginger may counter certain autoimmune disorders such as lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome.
- A new Michigan Medicine study on mice suggests that the primary bioactive compound of ginger root, 6-gingerol, could help counter the autoimmune disorders lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome.
- The researchers found that the mice had lower levels of NETs (which play a role in the pathogenesis of lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome by stimulating autoantibody formation) after being giving 6-gingerol.
- 6-gingerol won't be able to be the primary therapy for individuals with lupus or active antiphospholipid syndrome, but the research team is eager to see if the natural supplement offers help to those at high risk for developing the diseases.
Treating lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome<p>Specifically, the researchers looked at lupus, which attacks the body's own immune system, along with antiphospholipid syndrome (often associated with lupus), which causes blood clots. Both the diseases cause widespread inflammation and ravage organs overtime. In mice with either of the disease, 6-gingerol stopped the neutrophil extracellular trap release caused by the diseases' production of autoantibodies.<br><br>"Neutrophil extracellular traps, or NETs, come from <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/white+blood+cells/" target="_blank">white blood cells</a> called neutrophils," explained lead author Ramadan Ali, Ph.D <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-01-ginger-counters-autoimmune-diseases-mice.html" target="_blank">in a press release</a>. "These sticky spider-web like structures are formed when autoantibodies interact with receptors on the neutrophil's surface."</p><p>The webs, according to Ali, play a fundamental role in the pathogenesis of lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome in which they set off autoantibody formation and contribute to clots in blood vessels and other damage. </p>
Ginger's anti-inflammatory properties<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTQzNDczMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MzQwMjk3Nn0.-sJTlsLQ9_0lz9nIjjx9zL2HzsBBPyiv-B48GOlTfzQ/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C312%2C0%2C312&height=700" id="9cfd3" width="1245" height="700" data-rm-shortcode-id="3e371d2eabee1b2f667acfaf184938a7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
What's next?<p>The study was done on rodent models. However, the authors think that the promising preclinical data, which showed that 6-gingerol has surprising anti-neutrophil properties that may guard against the progression of certain autoimmune diseases, encourages the clinical trial development. </p><p>"As for basically all treatments in our field, one size does not fit all. But, I wonder if there is a subgroup of autoimmune patients with hyperactive neutrophils who might benefit from increased intake of 6-gingerol," Knight said, noting that it will be important to look and analyze neutrophils before and after treatment so to determine the subgroup most likely to see benefit. </p><p>While 6-gingerol won't be able to be the primary therapy for individuals with lupus or active antiphospholipid syndrome, the research team is eager to see if the natural supplement offers help to those at high risk for developing the diseases. </p><p>"Those that have autoantibodies, but don't have activated disease, may benefit from this treatment if 6-gingerol proves to be a protective agent in humans as it does in mice," Ali said.</p><p>"Patients with active disease take blood thinners, but what if there was also a natural supplement that helped reduce the amount of clots they produce? And what if we could decrease their autoantibodies?"</p>
Giving herbal medicine a deeper look<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTQzNDcyOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNzk0ODAxMX0.WSI8bt0eK1tb3_C59TWbm_VBjzEmr8qZMe9sjydAR8A/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C703%2C0%2C-3&height=700" id="1f638" width="1245" height="700" data-rm-shortcode-id="a4be37f15c9dedb3414f30ce8629d69a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
bulbs of garlics
A new study explores the therapeutic potential of the psychedelic drug ibogaine, which has been used in Africa for centuries.
- For decades, people have reported that the psychedelic drug ibogaine seems to rid addicts of their cravings for drugs.
- In a new study, researchers created a variant of ibogaine that's less toxic and doesn't cause hallucinations.
- The results showed that the variant seemed to significantly lower depression and drug relapse rates in tests on mice.
Tabernanthe iboga bark powder
Credit: Kgjerstad / Wikimedia Commons<p>To explore ibogaine's potential as an addiction treatment, the researchers behind the recent study, published in the journal <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-3008-z" target="_blank">Nature</a>, aimed to create safer, less toxic analogues of the drug. </p><p>The team created an ibogaine variant that, like ibogaine, had an element called a tetrahydroazepine ring, which seems to be involved in promoting the growth of dendritic spines. This variant—a compound called tabernanthalog (TBG)—was less toxic and less hallucinogenic.<br></p><p>Experiments on mice suggested TBG has antidepressant and anti-addiction potential. </p><p>One test showed that mice subjected to a series of stressors showed less depression symptoms after one treatment, effects similar to ketamine, another psychedelic drug. More surprising was a test on opioid addiction: TBG seemed to virtually eliminate relapses in mice who had become addicted to heroin. This anti-addictive effect lasted about two weeks.</p>