One Downside of MJ Legalization: Major Energy Use
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One Downside of MJ Legalization: Major Energy Use
Posted by CN Staff on March 23, 2015 at 12:43:36 PT
By Chris Mooney
Source: Washington Post
USA -- Across the country, there’s a growing trend toward the legalization of marijuana. Four states — Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Alaska — have voted to allow people to possess limited amounts of marijuana use for personal use and also to let producers apply for licenses to produce and sell it. D.C. also just voted to allow personal possession. All of this is on top of the 23 states that allow it for medical reasons.In some states, where businesses are also now legally cultivating and producing marijuana, a mainstream industry is emerging. Marijuana sales totaled $700 million in Colorado last year, for instance. But there’s a surprising catch. It turns out that indoor marijuana growth in particular — a cultivation method often favored in the industry for many reasons — uses a surprising amount of energy.
Indeed, the level of power use appears to be so significant that one scholar is now suggesting that as the industry grows, states and localities should take advantage of marijuana licensing procedures to also regulate the industry’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.“Given that this is a new ‘industry’ that is going to be pretty highly regulated, I felt like the state and local policymakers have a unique opportunity to incorporate energy usage and climate assessments into their state marijuana licensing fees,” says Gina Warren, a professor at the Texas A&M University School of Law whose paper, titled “Regulating Pot to Save the Polar Bear: Energy and Climate Impacts of the Marijuana Industry,” will soon appear in the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law.The published statistics on energy use from indoor marijuana production will blow your mind (whether or not you use the stuff). In a 2012 study of the “carbon footprint of indoor cannabis production” published in the journal Energy Policy, researcher Evan Mills noted that “on occasion, previously unrecognized spheres of energy use come to light,” and marijuana is a textbook example.The study estimated that indoor cannabis (both illegal and illegal) uses $6 billion worth of electricity every year, amounting to 1 percent of overall U.S. electricity. And in some production-intensive states like California, it was much higher — 3 percent, Mills found.“One average kilogram of final product is associated with 4,600 kg of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, or that of 3 million average U.S. cars when aggregated across all national production,” wrote Mills.The reason is simply the technology required. “Specific energy uses include high-intensity lighting, dehumidification to remove water vapor and avoid mold formation, space heating or cooling during non-illuminated periods and drying, pre-heating of irrigation water, generation of carbon dioxide by burning fossil fuel, and ventilation and air-conditioning to remove waste heat,” writes Mills.Outdoor production also has environmental consequences — it has been charged with deforestation and high levels of water and pesticide use. But as pot becomes more legal and mainstream, notes Warren, outdoor producers will have to abide by preexisting environmental laws, just like everyone else.In effect, that makes indoor production the chief climate change and energy concern. According to Warren’s article, while underground indoor marijuana production already consumed plenty of energy, legalization will increase energy use even farther. “As the industry grows, so will its negative externalities,” she writes.Which is why she’s proposing that states that legalize marijuana use should also require the growing industry to power itself cleanly. And it’s not without precedent: Starting in October of this year, Boulder County in Colorado will require many marijuana facilities to “directly offset 100% of electricity, propane, and natural [gas] consumption” through renewables or other means.Warren says she’s not “picking on the marijuana industry” with her proposals — it’s just that, well, we don’t often have new industries appear that use a lot of energy and are likely to be highly regulated as they become legal.“I think it could actually be a marketing tool for the industry,” says Warren, “because if you have people who are purchasing the product who are the type of individual who cares about the environment, then they would gravitate towards the green marijuana production.”Chris Mooney reports on science and the environment.Source: Washington Post (DC) Author:  Chris MooneyPublished: March 23, 2015Copyright: 2015 Washington Post CompanyContact: letters Website: URL: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #11 posted by Sam Adams on March 25, 2015 at 17:06:37 PT
propaganda rolls onÉ..
classic technique of drug war propaganda - blame the results of a failed policy on those who are trying to change it! Question: how much cannabis was grown indoors BEFORE prohibition? 
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Comment #10 posted by HempWorld on March 24, 2015 at 19:11:35 PT
Mr. Chris Mooney
Is that your real name (ha, ha)Are you a propagandist?I think you are kind of a mouthpiece! I happen to be deep, deep, in the industry...So, we grow in Green Houses, that require no outside energy...We can build a totally self-sufficient operation energy wise.But, you would have to use the energy of the sun, as in greenhouses. We have a system to recycle the stalks into a self-sufficient heater. Zero, i.e. 0 energy use from outside sources.But Mr. Mooney wouldn't know about that...
Total Green House Solutions! Energy Independent!
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Comment #9 posted by observer on March 24, 2015 at 17:00:44 PT
I'll take the 'orrible, terrible etc. energy use of a legalized cannabis industry that gainfully employs many thousands of people and is growing daily in every sense, to the parasitic waste of human potential and lives in jail from pot prohibition. So yes, of course: working businesses, a working industry will take energy. That's a good thing. That will surely get sorted once people can grow outdoors and in greenhouses, more and more. 
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Comment #8 posted by Mr D on March 24, 2015 at 09:44:17 PT:
Yup, uh huh. Maybe, nope.
Maybe if cannabis' dollar value wasn't artificially inflated to the price of gold because of idiot voters that are scared to death of this herb, this weed could grow outdoors as nature intended. But hey, just more of this insane word game of power and control. Cannabis legalization reminds me of the cure for cancer. "We're getting close." 
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Comment #7 posted by runruff on March 24, 2015 at 08:14:59 PT
Whenever the truth is allowed to get a toe hold, it will grow by it's own momentum.Also like a snowball on a steep hill.
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Comment #6 posted by runruff on March 24, 2015 at 07:37:35 PT
The fed said...
You know, it doesn't really matter too much to me what Judge Mueller or congress comes up with. It is a known fact that the fed can not finance or conduct a war on drugs without the help and support of the nation. It is beginning to look like "power postering" than anything. When the fed does decide to recognize it has lost and admits to it, I will only help them to save face. 80% of the country disagrees with our elected political sloths, talk about your Alamos! You can run but you can't hide!
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Comment #5 posted by The GCW on March 24, 2015 at 05:19:21 PT
Why a Closely Watched Marijuana Case in Federal Court Looks to Be Leaning in the Right DirectionDoes marijuana deserve to be Schedule I?
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on March 23, 2015 at 19:28:15 PT
Hops are grown outside
Grow marijuana in fields with people to care for them and let nature do the work. 
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on March 23, 2015 at 19:15:50 PT
POLL:Should marijuana be legalized for medical use?
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Comment #2 posted by MikeEEEEE on March 23, 2015 at 17:52:38 PT
Wind and solar are gaining popularity.But on another topic, even without dirty energy, its too late to stop a 10' or more sea rise.
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Comment #1 posted by swazi-x on March 23, 2015 at 14:48:17 PT
By Design
Of course cannabis cultivation uses vast amounts of energy - many places where it's been "legalized" have carefully crafted the laws to disallow home out door growing under the lie of "public safety". It's the same technique the morons in power used to prohibit normal use to begin with - they couldn't just make a plant illegal, so they created laws that were untenable as restrictions around it, like the "Marijuana Tax Stamp" scheme. You could technically possess, use and grow it if you had purchased a tax stamp but - surprise! - they didn't sell the stamps. Lying sacks of sh*t then, lying sacks of sh*t now.Same ignorant overreach we see in local restrictions - in CA you're supposed to be able to grow 6 plants for personal use medically, but many counties make the restrictions on how you can grow it outdoors (must have a solid-walled 6' high fence with 4 security cameras, locked gate, water supply professionally installed, registered with county, etc.) so expensive and ridiculous it's a virtual ban on growing outdoors.This is the kind of sleaze we're fighting against - a continuation and modification of the same old, tired lies we've been told by our own government about this miracle plant in order to squeeze out just that much more fear and delay the acceptance in the public mind.If everyone could grow it freely, like tomatoes, without any of this "the sky is falling" Chicken Little nonsense, the price would drop below that which makes it attractive for crime of any sort. We could stop maiming children in carelessly planned "drug raids" looking for an ounce of weed in the wrong house, stop filling our prisons with people who are nothing more than numbers for our insanely ill-advised FOR PROFIT prison system, and at last be legally able to cure ourselves of many modern illnesses quickly and cheaply and permanently.
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