There is a conversation that takes place among cannabis connoisseurs all over. The indoor vs. outdoor grown conversation. We decided to tap into resident canna-science nerd and genius, Rob, to talk about this topic. Rob’s passion for quality products is well known among staff, vendors, and Mankind members (even if they don’t know it). Think of him as the E.F. Hutton of weed. When Rob talks, we should all listen.
Quanlity, Quantity, Sustainability
The word “outdoor” has always had a negative connotation among cannabis buyers and consumers. It’s generally regarded as lower quality or a commercial venture rather than a high quality passion project. This line of thinking has a few critical errors and oversights. I hope to cover some of the key points here.
The levels of cannabinoids present in a plant, as well as it’s overall appearance, are really the only determining factors in judging the quality of any sample. There are a million factors that can lead to the levels of one strain being higher or lower than another. Genetics, environment and light spectrum tend to be big three. Taking genetics out of the conversation today, let’s focus on environment and light spectrum.
Climb Into The Light
When we talk about environment, we’re referring to the conditions, climate and control of the plant’s light and nutrient exposure while it was being grown.
Light spectrum is referring to the source of lumens feeding your plants. A lumen is the amount of light emitted per second from any particular light source. The sun provides a certain spectrum of light. Meanwhile high pressure sodium, or LED lights, provide a different spectrum respectively.
“Full term”, “outdoor”, and “sun grown” refer to plants with very little environmental control. The sun provides the only light spectrum and the plants are exposed to whatever is in the air around them. This is the traditional way to grow cannabis. It gives you the ability to scale the size of your production to whatever the size of your plot of land will allow. Cheaper cost of production leads to cheaper retail prices, for better or for worse. Companies like Roots and True Humboldt specialize in outdoor grows.
Here little environmental control can lead to problems with microbial and pesticide testing. The sun however will always be the preferred source of light for producing a broad spectrum of cannabinoids. This is especially true in the production of complex volatile terpenes which are responsible for the plant’s flavor and aroma.
Upsides: Sustainable, scalable, low impact to the surrounding environment
Downsides: Low environmental control, only 1 grow per season, appearance of flower can sometimes be subpar
A Greener House
“Greenhouse”, “light- dep”, or “mixed light” grows are becoming more and more the industry standard. There is some wiggle room in these terms but generally a true greenhouse is just an enclosed glass structure. These are used to control the environment while maintaining the pure sunlight spectrum.
Light deprivation, or “light dep” grows utilize the sun’s light as well as some form of light control. Things like black out tarps or light movers ensure a specific amount of light reaches the plants. “Mixed light” grows are some of the more advanced systems today. They utilize the sun’s natural light, supplemented by LED and/or HPS lights to ensure plants get the widest spectrum of light possible.
Upsides: Sustainable, scalable, medium to low impact to the surrounding environment, fully automatable for year round production, high quality flowers
Downsides: Cost of production goes up the more advanced your grow becomes
Indoor All The Way
True indoor grows came into existence for 2 main reasons. The first was because it’s easier to hide a clandestine grow inside a house than it is outdoors. The second, and probably more important reason, was the ability to grow year round. The influx of indoor hydroponic grows along with the impetus for higher and higher THC contents converged to create the notion that indoor inherently meant higher quality.
While you have a higher level of environmental control on temperature and outside influence, most commercial indoor rooms produce about 60% of what their Mixed Light counterparts do. It also costs more to produce it this way. Small batch, boutique indoor grows with unique branding and exorbitant price points have seen a rise in popularity in the recreational cannabis space. Brands like Garrison Lane and the Jungle Boys specialize in exotic strains grown completely indoors. It’s pretty costly on the water supply, power grid, and your wallet, to start an indoor grow or to purchase the finished product.
Upsides: The highest level of environmental control and security
Downsides: Cost prohibitive, smaller yields, and the highest impact on the environment
The Circle Of Life
When we consume cannabis we become part of the chain of production. It’s our responsibility to choose products that align with our conscience. Looking into the business practices, sustainability, and the environmental impact of the companies we deal with is as important in the cannabis industry as it is in the food industry. The rise in demand for cannabis will lead to more and more growers, that means more water being used, more gas being used, more plastic being used and more electricity being used. So be informed, and be aware of the large impact our small choices can make.
Rob Espinosa is Mankind Dispensary’s very own cannabis whiz. Rob handles product purchases and has a long history of love, and education, within the cannabis world. You can find out what new hotness Rob has found for Mankind customers by stopping in at 7128 Miramar Rd in San Diego. You can find him on IG @blue_ridge_rob. (PS we asked him to smile…he said he was.)