Marijuana brings in the green but not in the environmental sense

Jun 27, 2017

Credit FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Even though it brings in lots of green in terms of dollars to states that have legalized it, marijuana production is not green in the environmental sense.

More than $1 billion per year in taxable sales has been generated in Colorado since the state approved the legalization of cannabis in 2012, but as The Guardian reports, producing even a few pounds of weed is equivalent in the environmental sense to driving across America seven times.

To reap several harvests a year, cannabis must be baked in light while air conditioning is cranked up to ensure growing rooms stay at a finely balanced temperature. A dehumidifier is used to prevent mold and carbon dioxide is pumped in to promote growth, as fans provide a breeze.  

Much of the energy consumed is lighting, which can make up half of a cannabis grower’s energy use, and expend around 500 times the illumination needed for normal reading. The uptick in electricity demand also drives fossil fuel use, as Colorado gets the majority of its energy from coal-fired power plants.