What if everything cannabis growers are learning today could help astronauts grow food on Mars in a century? That’s the bold question Jacklyn Green posed to an audience of cannabis farmers and researchers at the Cannabis Science Conference on Tuesday. Green, a former NASA scientist and current CEO of cannabis consulting firm Agate Biosciences, wants to take the expertise of indoor marijuana growers and apply it to the challenges of cultivating crops in a hostile Martian environment.
Cannabis Science Conference Envisions Weed on Mars
The Cannabis Science Conference is the world’s largest and most technical cannabis science expo. Instead of focusing on products, brands and retail, the CSC brings together cannabis research scientists, medical practitioners, testing lab operators and instrument manufacturers to talk science. The goal is to improve the technical aspects of the cannabis industry by improving cannabis science.
But while most of the conference presentations focused on improving cultivation here on earth, Jacklyn Green’s focused on the stars. Green predicts humans will colonize Mars within the next century. And NASA is already conducting Mars colony experiments, locking teams of volunteer scientists in a simulated habitat on a remote volcanic island in Hawaii.
But when it comes to keeping humans alive on Mars, one of the biggest problems facing NASA is food. How to grow crops indoors in such an unfamiliar and hostile place? Green thinks marijuana growers can help solve that problem for NASA. She wants to use data from today’s high-tech industrial grows to develop strategies for controlled agriculture. It’s research that’s crucial not just for a Mars colony, but for people living in hostile, drought-stricken environments on this planet. Growing crops indoors, developing indoor farming, could have a big impact on global food crises.
“You are on the frontline in ways people who grow tomatoes can’t be,” Green told CSC attendees, according to Oregon Business. “It starts with being a scientist in your grow.”
NASA Scientist Wants Cannabis Cultivators to Take a More Scientific Approach
As legalization continues to spur industrial-scale cannabis operations, growers are investing in high-tech equipment to optimize cultivation. Product quality and profit margins both depend on it. But Green said she still felt that cannabis growers weren’t being scientific enough, conference attendees notwithstanding.
She also pointed out how few peer-reviewed journals publish studies on cannabis cultivation. And how often growers tend to rely on word-of-mouth and anecdotal folk wisdom, rather than hard science. More growers should become citizen-scientists, Green said, and conduct studies that provide real data. “Don’t just say you’ve got the dankest weed,” she said. “Say you can prove it.”
Other conference presentations were shining examples of the kind of work Green was encouraging. Many of the demonstrations featured small-scale studies. Studies that, despite their limited nature, introduced significant advancements in cannabis cultivation. One group of presenters shared their findings on the optimal lighting distance between bulbs and plants. Others demonstrated biomimicry techniques that replicate outdoor conditions indoors. Another shared tips for greenhouse layout to maximize efficiency protecting plants from contamination.
All of these studies, Green stressed, have implications beyond the cannabis industry. From improving food security and combating hunger around the world today, to keeping Mars colonists alive tomorrow.