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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Don’t bogart that megawatt, my friend.

    A new study estimates that indoor pot-growing operations in the United States burn about $5 billion worth of electricity annually, or roughly 1 percent of national power consumption. That’s enough electricity to power two million average homes.

    The electricity use of the typical grow operation approaches 200 watts per square foot, on par with the power usage of a modern computer data center, Evan Mills, a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and author of the study, said in a statement. (The study was completed in his free time and without federal funds, Dr. Mills added.)

    The study estimated that a single joint contains the equivalent of roughly two pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of running a 100-watt bulb for about 30 hours on the California grid.

    Marijuana is considered the nation’s largest cash crop, with a production value estimated at about $40 billion annually. Legal restrictions have been steadily relaxed in recent years, with cultivation for medical purposes legal in 17 states.

    Yet a continuing federal prohibition on virtually all forms of pot-growing has kept the industry in the shadows, contributing to substantial inefficiencies, Dr. Mills said.

    “If improved practices applicable to commercial agricultural greenhouses are any indication, such large amounts of energy are not required for indoor cannabis production,” he wrote. “Cost-effective efficiency improvements of 75 percent are conceivable.”

    Such energy savings could be substantial. In California, where about 400,000 people are licensed to grow marijuana for personal medical use or to sell to dispensaries, indoor cultivation is responsible for a whopping 8 percent of household electricity usage, costing about $3 billion yearly and producing the annual carbon emission of a million average cars.

    “Current indoor cannabis production and distribution practices result in prodigious energy use, costs, and greenhouse-gas pollution,” Dr. Mills wrote. “The hidden growth of electricity demand in this sector confounds energy forecasts and obscures savings from energy efficiency programs and policies.”

    However, Dr. Mills also noted that California’s cleaner mix of fuels for power generation meant that the state, despite its position as the country’s top marijuana producer, contributed only about 20 percent of national carbon dioxide emissions from the practice.

    April 12, 2011,


    NOTE: Study uploaded to archives HERE


  1. Killa Weigha
    I want to find the person who gave the go-ahead on funding for this study and beat the living shit out him/her. Simple mathematics would have given the same results. What next? "Do hot-tubs increase the amount of electricity consumed in a household"? WTF kind of morons think this shit up? Somebody stop these idiots! By any means necessary. Your tax dollars at work. Is it any wonder...
  2. Terrapinzflyer
    ^^ To be clear- this was NOT a government funded report.

    from the actual paper:
    Personally- I'm glad someone took the time to crunch the numbers, and have never understood the continued reliance on indoor growing in areas where it is legal to grow outdoors, nor have I understood the blanket belief that "indoor" pot is somehow intrinsically better then outdoor that has arisen in the past decade or so...
  3. Killa Weigha
    It's still useless information that you or I could come up with in 10 minutes using 4th grade math skills. It's a "no shit Sherlock" study which wasted SOMEONE's time and money. Doesn't take a rocket-scientist to ascertain that when you turn on something which is electrically powered that your power bill goes up:s

    They like to grow indoors to control the environment totally and completely while keeping away thieves and cops. You can thank the Dutch for blowing up the indoor scene by allowing breeders to thrive unmolested (though it began in Seattle, Vancouver in the 70's according to my recollection and High Times mag), throngs of tourists to sample the results and vote with their pocketbooks and the scene to evolve into one of mythological proportion (sadly, they've changed their minds with pressure from Brussels compounded by native busy-bodies/ nanny statists) - and the myth continues. Any real "head" knows better (think Jamaica, Hawaii, our Emerald Triangle and Nepal).
  4. Terrapinzflyer
    Did you actually even read the paper? (linked in first post) Or just the crummy little story?

    I actually have some background in electrics- including production and the related carbon footprint and it would still have taken me weeks, at least, to produce something probably less thorough then this.

    And it does have real world ramifications- the US energy grid is about at its max in many locales, and it is likely that in the next decade, with the rise in electric vehicles among other factors, the grid will not be able to meet the demands.

    And at a time when legislation is being passed penalizing industries with a large carbon footprint the medical marijuana, and hopefully in the not too distant future- the recreational marijuana industry will have to deal with these very issues.

    I think there are also many end users who have never really thought about the environmental impact of their pot- and maybe now they will.

    While much of the data in the paper is in chart form not easy to quickly reproduce here, some interesting tidbits (all referenced) from the paper:
  5. Motorhead
    A cursory glance at this piece may make one think Dr. Mills is anti-marijuana(maybe he is), but I think his conclusions can be used to validate legalization.

    A big reason people grow indoors is to avoid detection by LE. If cannabis is legalized a lot more people would grow outdoors or with greenhouse techniques if the threat of prosecution is removed. Not everyone of course, and the industry would still use its fair share of electricity. But we could assume the majority of the 'hidden demand' would be removed, and as long as everyone is paying their power bill-not jacking electricity-and the industry revenues are contributing to the legitimate economy then the carbon foot print is worth it.
  6. Ghetto_Chem
    Hey guys,

    Motorhead that argument could be made... And swims friend would love to be able to legally smoke buds. But some could also argue that legalization would further push the plants indoors.

    Look at the bud situation in california. The dispensaries prefer indoor grown buds over outdoor purely on the fact that they look better. Outdoor bud growers are having a hard time pushing their product and alot of them are probably beginnning to think twice on this legalization stuff. This is making even more growers who previously grew outdoors to move inside.

    Now for those who know anything about green know that if the grower knows whats up, the outdoor can be just as good or BETTER than indoor. One thing swims friend read was that if the plants are exposed to at least 2 hours of natural sunlight daily, they are 50% more potent than plants that don't get the same treatment.

    It all depends on what happens if buds were legalized. If people started growing more when it was then everything would be fine. But if everybody started buying from larger companies than it could just further the situtation.

    Swims friend thinks the best thing would be legalization of the use and growing for personal use. But not the sale of it to prevent this.

    Now swims friend feels super bad everytime he takes a hit... He is moving outdoor. He could never have imagined that each joint had that much amount of carbon emissions.

    One more thing about this study, didnt check out the link but alot of times a person doesn't smoke a whole marijuana cigarette to themselves to get high. This is the argument used by alot of anti-cannabis movements trying to say that they produce more tar the cigarettes. Its probably true but who the hell sits down and burns a whole J when the bud is actually halfway decent.

  7. Motorhead
    It's hard to predict exact trends in growing methods in a legalized world, but the fact stated in the study is that prohibition is the direct cause of inefficient electricity consumption and the marijuana industry could be 75% more efficient if it were de-criminalized.

    A lot of reporters are focusing on the numbers, ignoring this blatant conclusion and posting articles and blogs with titles like Killing the planet, one toke at a time

    Wading through all the negative titles, I found this article from the Huffington Post,
    Marijuana Carbon Footprint: Indoor Pot Production Uses 1 Percent Of U.S. Electricity, Study Says
    , that covers the point made that criminalization is the direct cause for such waste.

    The environment and energy consumption are big topics, and this study is garnering quite a bit of attention. Despite all the negative spin, I think the pro-legalization movement can use this study to it's advantage in the future.
  8. Ghetto_Chem
    Ya thats true man.

    Swims friend is in support of legalization for sure, but is still scared what it might bring. Although the prohibition might have brought upon the era of indoor growing. Its most likely not going to revert back to outdoor when legalized. And there are other industries that benefit from having inefficient lighting systems, power companies and such. Its just like the dumbass car/truck companies making inefficient on gas so the fuel companies make bank, and then they all share. A million conclusions like this could be made.

    And that 75% is not a engraved in stone fact. He merely said it is conceivable. Lighting systems, believe it or not, are becoming much more prominently used for legal vegetables and other plants. Why have the advancements not come from these fields?

    Sorry that swims friend is arguing a side he doesn't necessarily agree with. Just that there is probably more to this than simply legalizing. He thinks that medicinal cannabis has already put a major dent in the outdoor game, and that furthering legalization could be the end of outdoor all together.

  9. Lethargy
    Numbers from the Energy Information Administration (in billions)

    -PCs and printers: 23 kWh
    -Dishwashers: 29 kWh
    -Color TVs and TV peripherals: 49 kWh
    -Refrigerators: 156 kWh (freezers add an additional 39 kWh)
    -Air conditioning: 183 kWh

    Number from study:
    Indoor Cannabis: 22 kWh

  10. rawbeer
    The other day I watched a documentary in on industrial agriculture and this, to me, is a similar issue. In CA for example indoor growing is a waste of energy. The extra few % points of THC cannot justify the kind of energy being wasted. I can't believe all of those people are using windmills and hydroelectric power to generate electricity - the majority of electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels.

    People who smoke pot are ironically more likely to be in support of organic production, energy limitations, environmentalism, etc. They should be the first to realize this.

    Laws drove growers inside, which revolutionized cannabis. But with the genetics that have been tweaked and the advances in marijuana botany, indoor growing in a place with abundant sunlight, proper temps and no laws against growing is just greedy, and it is the same bullshit marketing that drives people to produce chickens with breasts so large they can't stand.

    Need super-strong smoke? You can make some amazing hash from outdoor weed. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    I think this is a great issue to bring to light. Not to mention most indoor uses synthetic fertilizers too. Set up community gardens, reclaim soil quality, and get some cannabis plants in there! The greed-storm that legalization has led to is kind of disheartening. Patients could grow grass in gardens, essentially free of charge...isn't this what hippies have been saying for years? Free, effective medicine, fresh from the garden.

    Nope. Multi-million dollar industry that's in danger of becoming just as disgusting as the rest of American industry.

    Come on, hippies! Try to drive weed prices way, way down, not vice versa...I know I'm being idealistic but this whole movement started with ideals.
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