Marijuana Growing Consumes 1% of Nation's Energy

There's nothing green about growing the green stuff in your house--that's the upshot of a surprising, even mind-boggling (but lamely titled) new study on the carbon footprint of marijuana-growing operations by a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Evan Mills, who conducted the study in his spare time, and even so may get a stern talking to from his supervisors tomorrow, found that indoor growing operations use lighting as intense as hospital operating rooms, ventilation more powerful than that in a biotech laboratory, and power intensity equal to a data center. In other words, pot farmers are huge energy hogs who are obviously destroying the planet. How much energy?

The analysis performed in this study finds that indoor Cannabis production results in energy expenditures of $5 billion each year, with electricity use equivalent to that of 2 million average U.S. homes. This corresponds to 1% of national electricity consumption or 2% of that in households. The yearly greenhouse-gas pollution (carbon dioxide, CO) from the electricity plus associated transportation fuels equals that of 3 million cars. Energy costs constitute a quarter of wholesale value.

Wow. That's a lot of energy. Kind of makes Cheech and Chong look like the Koch Brothers, doesn't it? Maybe they should stop growing that stuff. Or, you know, grow it outdoors.

Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.


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