Getting High is Energy Intensive

credit: Richard T on Unsplash

According to an article in the March 8, 2017 edition of Energize Weekly, it takes a formidable amount of energy to get high. Lessons learned from the burgeoning marijuana industry:

The paradigm of marijuana legalization across the country will have profound impacts and consequences on power operations and electricity consumption. Following the election of November 2016, about 60 percent of Americans now live in a state where cannabis is legal or soon to be legal in some form. Voters in four states – California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine – chose to legalize recreational marijuana, while four others – Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota and Montana – passed measures allowing cannabis to be used for medical purposes. To date, 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana and 8 have legalized it on the recreational level.

credit: Jeff W on Unsplash

Many voters and legislatures that have legalized pot consumption do not realize that the cannabis industry is an extremely energy-intensive business. Indoor-growing facilities require massive amounts of energy for lighting, venting, and dehumidification. In 2012, even before the legalization wave started in earnest, one study found that legal indoor marijuana growing facilities accounted for 1% of national electricity use at a cost of roughly $6 billion per year, already rivaling energy consumption of data centers. States where cannabis was first legalized – especially at the recreational level in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska – have struggled to find effective solutions to manage the industry’s prodigious energy consumption.

Outdoor grows have problems of their own, of course, but the energy consumed there comes directly from solar power. Maybe nature does it better?


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