One of the externalities of the growing legal marijuana industry is an extremely high demand for electricity in order to support cannabis cultivation indoors. At one point, growing marijuana indoors was preferred because of spying eyes from police officials. Now, it is becoming popular for different reasons; indoor growth provides better security for plants, and gives farmers the ability to control conditions in order to maximize the yields of multiple harvests. All of those benefits come at the cost of electricity use.
A study in 2011 noted that the cost of electricity to support marijuana growth in the United States passed $6 billion. That is six times the energy demand for the United States and eight times higher than the amount of energy use per square foot for normal commercial building. Cannabis cultivation takes up about one percent of all electricity in the United States. In California, medical marijuana is legal, but recreational is not; even then, marijuana growth takes up three percent of all electricity in the state.
The demand for electricity is not only difficult for the electric power grid in certain states, but it also is a large reason for carbon emissions. On Monday, Bloomberg reported that in the twenty-three states where marijuana is legal to add as many gas emissions as all the cars, homes, and businesses in New Hampshire. In Colorado, recreational marijuana is legal and cultivators take up as much electricity as 35,000 homes while in California the amount of electricity taken up is equal to the amount used in 1 million homes.
The issue is that there are difficulties with growing outdoors. For instance, deforestation of public lands usually has a very negative impact on parks, rivers, and even lakes. Also, the use of pesticides and rodenticides is poisoning wildlife and even polluting nearby waters.
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