Indoor cannabis cultivation may be trendy, but it’s also costly. Marijuana grown inside accounts for one percent of the annual electricity use in the United States, according to a new study.
That’s $5 billion worth of energy, equivalent to the energy use of two million homes for a year, reports Ariel Schwartz at Fast Company. The news comes from a report by Evan Mills, a veteran energy analyst at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, who said the problem can be traced back to the high-intensity lighting, dehumidification, air conditioning, irrigation, heating, and ventilation systems used in modern indoor grows.
|Photo: Larimer County Sheriff’s Office|
|It may be green but it ain’t eco-friendly.|
Mills’s worrisome report breaks the situation down into some understandable numbers: Smoking a joint is the same as leaving a 100-watt light bulb on for 17 hours, according to his calculations. A kilo of pot is supposedly the same as driving across the country five times in a car getting 44 miles per gallon.
With the energy consumption so much lower for outdoor marijuana grows, the obvious solution is to allow outdoor growing — which, due to our eerily puritanical and schizophrenic attitudes about (even medical) marijuana, isn’t allowed even in most states where medicinal cannabis is legal.
But with the medical marijuana market expected to reach almost $9 billion in the next five years, cutting back on energy consumption probably isn’t a high priority for the indoor grower getting $3,000 or $4,000 a pound.
“Instead, marijuana production needs to be legalized, so people will actually cast a critical eye on its energy usage,” offers Fast Company.
Meanwhile, it’s probably only a matter of time until your friendly local dispensary starts offering carbon offset credits along with that quarter-ounce.