Impacts of Cannabis on Environmental Sustainability and Health

Posted on: 10th May 2023


This first paper will be 3-5 pages long, not including cover page and reference list. A variety of topics gleaned from the course content, with professor’s approval, will be acceptable as topics for the first written paper assignment. Students are directed to reflect on and synthesize what they have learned in other courses that relate to this course on medicinal cannabis.

Please note this assignment is due before the beginning of class on Monday, February 7th.

After that, 2.5 points will be deducted from the grade for this submission for every 24 hour period it is late.

Please use correct grammar and write in the style that your program has instructed you. For nursing majors, that will be APA style.

Make sure to include an introduction, discussion and summary in your written work. Topics may include, but are not limited to the following:

1) Relate the potential of utilizing cannabis as medicine on the global scale as it relates to supporting environmental justice and sustainability. Please title this paper: Ubiquitous Utilization of Cannabis Medicine: Unlimited Potential for Supporting Environmental Justice and Sustainability

2) An article listed on course reference list

3) An article from SU School of Law site: (Links to an external site.)

...choose an article of your interest.

4) A deeper dive into cannabis history and the history of the US in the prohibition era

5) Customize an idea for a paper with pre-approval from professor

You can also choose from some of these reference lists as well.

Cannabis Course Reference List


Aamodt, S. & Wang, S., (2009). Welcome to Your Brain, Bloomsbury: New York

Abrams, D. (2017). Marijuana for Medical Professionals. Presentation in Denver,


Aizpurua-Olaizola et al (2016). Evolution of the cannabinoid and terpene content

during the growth of cannabis sativa plants from different chemotypes.

Journal of Natural Products, 79, (2), 324-331.

Allsop, M. et al (2011). The cannabis withdrawal scale development:Patterns and

predictors of cannabis withdrawal and distress. Drug Alcohol Depend., 119,


American Nurses Association (2008). Position Statement in Support of Patients’ Safe

Access to Therapeutic Marijuana. P.1.

Armentano, P., (1996). The pot book: A complete guide to cannabis. Holland,J, Editor.

Park street Press:Vermont.

Baker, P., Bagon, K., & Gough, T. (1980). Variation in the THC content in illicitly

imported cannabis products. Bulletin on Narcotics 32, (4), 47-54.

Bambico, F. R., Katz, N., Debonnel, G., & Gobbi, G. (2007). Cannabinoids elicit

antidepressant-like behavior and activate serotonergic neurons through the

medial prefrontal cortex. Journal Neuroscience, 27, 11700-11711.

Bienenstock, D. (2016). How (and Why) Your Brain Makes its Own Cannabinoids.

Vice, February 29.

Cunha et al, (1980). Chronic administration of cannabidiol to healthy volunteers and

epileptic patients. Pharmacology, 21, (3), 175-185.

Gerdeman, G. (2019). Thirteenth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis

Therapeutics. Tampa Bay, April 11-13, 2019

Gill, A. J., Kolson, D. L. (2014). Chronic inflammation and the role for cofactors

(hepatitis C, drug abuse, antiretroviral drug toxicity, aging) in HAND

persistence. Current HIV/AIDS Reports. 11, (3), 325-335.

Gong, H., Tashkin, D., Simmons, M., Calvarese, B., & Shapiro, B., (1984). Acute and

subacute bronchial effects of oral cannabinoids. Clinical Pharmacology &

Therapeutics, 35, (1), 26-32.

Grivas, Kleanthis, & Whitehouse (1997). Cannabis: Marihuana-Hashish. Minerva


GW Pharmaceuticals Archives (2017). Positive Results in Phase 2 Proof of Concept

Study in Glioma, February 7, 2017.

Health Canada (2013). Information for health care professionals. February, 2013, 59-

65, 87.

Hilts, P. J. (1994). Negative Addictiveness of Drugs, New York Times, August 2, 1994.

Ingram, C. (2016). The cannabis cure. Knowledge House Publishers: Illinois.

Jackson, N. J. et al, (2016). Impact of adolescent marijuana use on intelligence: Results

from two longitudinal twin studies. Proceedings of the National Academy of

Sciences, 113, (5), E500-E508.

Jiang et al, (2011). Identification of cytochrome P450 enzymes responsible for

metabolism of cannabidiol by human liver microsomes. Life Sciences, 89, (5-

6), 165-170.

Journal of Nursing Regulation, (2018). The NCSBN National Nursing Guidelines for

Medical Marijuana. 9, (2).

Joy, Stanley, & Benson (1999). Marijuana and medicine: Assessing the science base.

Washington D.C.: National Academy Press.

Kaufman, M. (2006). Study finds no cancer-marijuana connection. The Washington

Post, 26.

Khaksar, Sepideh, & Mohammad (2017). Anti-toxic effects of cannabidiol are partly

mediated by enhancement of NCX2 and NCX3 expression in animal model of

cerebral ischemia. Europian Journal of Pharmacology, 794, 270-279.

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Impacts of Cannabis on Environmental Sustainability and Health

Over the last 20 years, many countries have increased the legalization of Cannabis both for medical and recreational purposes. Amongst these countries are Canada, Uruguay, and 12 states in the US purposely for recreational use, while another 36 countries globally have legalized it for its medical significance (Chouvy, 2019). The plant belongs to the kingdom Plantae under cannabis spp. Additionally, the plant has an averagely high total dry weight of over 0.3%. Until today, illegal markets for Cannabis continue to do well globally as the legal sector also thrives on developing. It is estimated that over 151 countries globally participate in the cultivation and consumption of Cannabis, with different lawmakers trying to develop mechanisms of regulating this because of its impact on environmental sustainability and human health. This paper will explore the effects of the drug on the environment under different typologies and its effects on the human body.

The overall economic value of this plant has been estimated to be close to 300 billion, with the illegal sector contributing the vast. However, what remains a hard task to lawmakers is the management of adverse environmental impacts of this industry. There are three main typologies related to Cannabis cultivation: indoor, mixed-light, and outdoor cultivation systems (Marchini and Parino, 2016). All the Cannabis cultivation systems have been attributed to their effects on the environment. Due to fertilizer use, studies have attributed reduced ecosystem degradation to indoor and mixed-light cannabis cultivation. For this reason, there is increased land fertility, hence increased production.

Outdoor cannabis cultivation needs less input than indoor and mixed-light cultivation pathways. However, this cultivation system is attributed to environmental degradation if poorly managed. Additionally, there are increased risks of air pollution from the cultivation of Cannabis using indoor and outdoor pathways (Wartenberg et al., 2021). Pollution is associated with the production of biogenic volatile organic compounds, which contribute to the formation of the ozone layer. Another impact associated with cannabis production and consumption is water pollution. Cannabis growth requires the use of pesticides for higher production. However, the use of pesticides causes water contamination, especially in the coastal regions, hence the destruction of the coastal ecosystem.

The other impact of cannabis use on the environment and sustainability is high energy use. The electricity requirements for the cannabis industry were high compared to the amount of energy needed for other greenhouse vegetable industries. The high energy consumption in cannabis cultivation has been linked to a range of processes which includes pumping of water and the production of fertilizer in its usage (Wartenberg et al., 2021). Additionally, other sources of high-power consumption from indoor and mixed-light cannabis cultivation include lighting and the costs involved in air and water circulation in the units.

Pesticides in cannabis cultivation are associated with numerous negative environmental consequences. This is due to the effects of pesticides on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Pesticide use is also attributed to soil and water contamination, especially outdoor cultivation along the shores and beach areas (Wartenberg et al., 2021). Moreover, pesticides can also damage vegetation like trees, adversely affecting sustainability and human health. The insecticide can also be toxic to other organisms like birds and sea animals like fish despite its effectiveness in killing weeds and unwanted insects.

Studies have indicated that marijuana, a by-product of Cannabis, was the most used illegal drug in the US up to 2019. The drug has a vast effect on the human body, particularly the brain. Cannabis affects normal brain functioning and mainly targets the parts responsible for memory, attention, and learning (CDC 2021). Therefore, persistent drug use will result in altered thinking patterns, poor judgment, attention deficit, and poor coordination and movement, among others as short-term effects. The long-term consequences of the drug on the human brain are in memory and learning. Those using the drug before 18 years may have problems in learning, and therefore their memory may be adversely affected, leading to permanent memory loss.

The other part of the body that is adversely affected by the use of Cannabis is the lungs. The drug can cause harm and injury to the lung tissues leading to scarring of the lungs and altered blood supply. The smoke that comes from Cannabis contains toxins and other forms of carcinogens, leading to chronic and terminal illnesses like cancer of the airway tract, bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, among other conditions (CDC 2021). Additionally, the continuous accumulation of smoke within the lung tissues can produce malignant cells within the lungs, leading to the onset of lung cancer and other airway tract malignancies.

In summary, Cannabis is the leading illicit drug highly consumed globally. Fifty countries globally have legalized the use of Cannabis, while 151 countries participate in its production, distribution, and consumption. Lawmakers have tried to develop mechanisms that would decrease the consumption of this drug due to its known effects on the environment, sustainability and health, as has been highlighted above in the text. Some of the environmental effects include environmental degradation with poor management in outdoor cultivation pathways and high electricity use due to the high costs involved, like water and air circulation. Also, the use of pesticides in its cultivation has several effects, including soil and water contamination and damage to vegetation. The effects on the human body are most noticeable in the brain, which results in memory loss as well as decreased attention and focus. Furthermore, cannabis smoking can harm the lungs, causing cancer or chronic respiratory disorders.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). Marijuana and Public Health: Health Effects. Retrieved from HTTP/

Chouvy, P. A. (2019). Cannabis cultivation in the world: heritages, trends and challenges. EchoGéo, (48).

Marchini, G., & Parino, B. (2016). Proposition 64: Marijuana Legalization. California Initiative Review (CIR), 2016(1), 15.

Wartenberg, A. C., Holden, P. A., Bodwitch, H., Parker-Shames, P., Novotny, T., Harmon, T. C., Hart, S. C., Beutel, M., Gilmore, M., Hoh, E., and Butsic, V. (2021). Cannabis and the Environment: What Science Tells Us, and We Still Need to Know. Environmental Science & Technology Letters 2021 8 (2), 98-107

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