Legal cannabis: environmental disaster?

Posted on November 19th, 2012 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

earthWe have noted before that the cannabis industry has a huge carbon footprint—something of a dirty little secret for the legalization movement. This is an especially relevant fact in Colorado, where Amendment 64 specifies that all legal weed must be grown indoors. Roberta Ragni in the Italian eco-journal GreenMe, asks "Marijuana Legalization: What Will It Mean for the Environment?" After quoting triumphant pot activists, Ragni lays on the inconvenient truth:

But what impact will the new law have on the environment? [Y]ou risk creating a business that can harm our planet for a variety of reasons— such as a huge increase in energy costs, when grown indoors; or damage to the local landscape, in the case of outdoor cultivation. The possibility to find small local and organic producers could, in fact, be only a distant mirage: much more likely are large-scale operations that could decimate local ecosystems... New producers [could] mean enormous energy costs from artificial lights, used up to a maximum of 20 hours a day in order to accelerate the natural growth.....
A huge waste of energy has been accurately calculated in the study "The Carbon Footprint of Indoor Cannabis Production," carried out in California... "The added energy use [of an indoor four-by-four grow] equals the consumption of about 30 refrigerators. "To grow [an indoor] plant emits CO2 amounting to 3,000 times the plant's weight," explained the researcher in charge of the study,  Professor Evan Mills... "In total, the energy used to grow marijuana indoors is equal to 1% of the electricity consumption of the United States and 2% of domestic electricity consumption."

Ragni remains enthusiastic about hemp as an alternative fiber. She sees hope in "open-air" cultivation, "taking care to respect biodiversity and animal life." But this is explicitly barred under the new Colorado law.

Graphic: Blue Dharma



Washington state to approve outdoor grows?

Global Ganja Report's picture

AP reports that draft rules for Washington state's new marijuana industry approved July 3 at a meeting in Olympia allow outdoor cultivation. The regulations still face public hearings before taking effect in September. 

Comment by Global Ganja Report on Jul 5th, 2013 at 1:56 am

Colorado growers sued over pesticide sue

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Two cannabis users in Colorado filed a lawsuit in state court Oct. 5 against Denver-based LivWell, which they say used an unhealthy pesticide to grow their product. The case underscores a dilemma: the US government still regards cannabis as an illicit drug and therefore there are no federal safety guidelines for growing it.  Colorado has approved a list of pesticides that are acceptable for cannabis, but it does not include several that are commonly used on both food crops and tobacco. The suit targets use of Eagle 20 EW  fungicide. Eagle 20 EW is commonly used on grapes and hops but can become dangerous when heated and is banned for use on tobacco. (AP)

Comment by Global Ganja Report on Oct 7th, 2015 at 5:23 pm

Energy-sapping cannabis cultivation a growing concern

Global Ganja Report's picture From Bloomberg via The Cannabist, Dec. 21:

Pot’s not green. The $3.5 billion U.S. cannabis market is emerging as one of the nation’s most power-hungry industries, with the 24-hour demands of thousands of indoor growing sites taxing aging electricity grids and unraveling hard-earned gains in energy conservation. Without design standards or efficient equipment, the facilities in the 23 states where marijuana is legal are responsible for greenhouse-gas emissions almost equal to those of every car, home and business in New Hampshire. While reams of regulations cover everything from tracking individual plants to package labeling to advertising, they lack requirements to reduce energy waste.

Some operations have blown out transformers, resulting in fires. Others rely on pollution-belching diesel generators to avoid hooking into the grid. And demand could intensify in 2017 if advocates succeed in legalizing the drug for recreational use in several states, including California and Nevada...

In Colorado, more than 1,234 licensed grow facilities compose almost half of new demand for power. In 2014, two years after residents voted overwhelmingly to legalize the drug for recreational use, growing sites consumed as much power as 35,000 households.
Comment by Global Ganja Report on Dec 26th, 2015 at 3:24 am

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