Canberra Decriminalises Cannabis For Recreational Use
A Close Look at the ACT’s New Laws and Limitations
Canberra has decriminalised the use, possession and cultivation of cannabis within the ACT. A first of its kind for the nation of Australia, the bill proposing this motion was passed into law on the 25th of September following a majority ruling by the Labor and Green Parties.
According to new legislature, residents of the ACT aged 18 and older will be legally be able to:
- Possess up to 50 grams (1.76 ounces) of dried cannabis and 150 grams (5.29 ounces) of wet cannabis
- Cultivate up to four plants per residence, as long as they are not cultivated through hydroponic means.
Currently, there are no laws that cap how much cannabis any individual can consume although it is clearly stated that cannabis cannot be consumed in public places.
These laws will take effect from the 31st of January 2020, after they are signed by the ACT Health Minister, Rachel Stephen-Smith.
What Are Hydroponics?
Plants are typically grown outdoors. In order to grow plants while maintaining optimal yields and growth time, a combination of nutrients, water and oxygen is needed. Even when all variables are at required levels, cultivators may face challenges including soil capacity and climate.
According to Full Bloom Greenhouse, hydroponics “is a method of growing plants in a water-based, nutrient rich solution. Hydroponics does not use soil; instead the root system is supported using an inert medium such as perlite, rockwool, clay pellets, peat moss or vermiculite”.
Are there any Benefits of Growing Cannabis through Hydroponics?
There are numerous benefits to growing cannabis through hydroponics. Some of these benefits include;
- No Soil Needed:
Growing plants with hydroponics does not require any soil. In areas where land space is scarce or soil is simply not fertile, hydroponics serve as an alternative and effective means to grow crops.
- Increased Rate of Growth:
With hydroponics, it is possible to grow plants all year round. In a well set-up hydroponic farm, cultivators can grow plants up to 25% faster while yielding 25% more produce than plants grown in soil.
- Conserves Water and Plant Nutrients:
Contrary to popular opinion, hydroponics actually save water. Hydroponics only use 10% of the water used in field-grown farm operations. Hydroponics are able to save water as most of the water used in operations is recirculated. Plants are fed water, and excess water flows into run-offs which capture the water and introduces it to the plant again; a cycle that aids in minimising waste. The only manners in which water is wasted during hydroponic growth is evaporation and system leakages.
- Climate Control:
Hydroponic growth facilities aid growers in creating and monitoring the perfect climate for the plants being grown. Unlike plants grown outdoors, hydroponic plants are not subject to the elements.
If Hydroponics Serve All These Benefits, Why Have They Been Banned in the New Canberra Laws?
There are many benefits that can be gained from growing cannabis through hydroponic means. However, even with these benefits, hydroponics can have drawbacks.
One of the biggest drawbacks of hydroponic cannabis growth facilities is their electricity consumption. In order to create and maintain temperatures and climatic conditions necessary for growth, these facilities utilise equipment, such as:
- LED Lights
- Ventilation Fans
The ACT’s reservations towards the electricity consumption associated with hydroponic growers may also be linked to the ongoing climate change conversation. The Australian Department of the Environment and Energy is fast addressing climate change while ensuring energy resources are kept affordable and evenly distributed.
Aside from electricity consumption, hydroponic facilities — particularly large facilities — emit greenhouse gasses. While singular hydroponic operations of up to four plants may not notably influence greenhouse emissions, legalisation would increase the number of hydroponic growers. The collective operations would inadvertently pose a threat to the climate.
While many growers might prefer to grow cannabis using hydroponics, they will have to find other ways to cultivate their plants. At least any cannabis they do grow will be legal under state laws.