The $5 Billion Carbon Footprint of Indoor Marijuana
While it might be all natural, it turns out that toking the green isn’t all that green. Especially if it’s grown indoors. A new study by Evan Mills, an energy analyst at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, examines the carbon footprint of the indoor marijuana industry. The results might kill your buzz if you’re an environmentalist:
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, CO2 ) from the electricity plus associated transportation fuels equals that of 3 million cars. Energy costs constitute a quarter of wholesale value.
California, the mecca of medical marijuana, is by far the worst offender. There, the indoor pot industry is responsible for about 3 percent of the entire state’s electricity use, or about 8 percent of all household use.
Some of the biggest growing facilities have a carbon footprint on par with many industrial medical and technology operations. According to Mills, a typical indoor marijuana growing facility has “lighting as intense as that found in an operating room (500-times more than needed for reading), 6-times the air-change rate of a bio-tech laboratory and 60-times that of a home, and the electric power intensity of a data center.”
Crunching the numbers, the report uncovers some other mind-blowing stats:
- A single joint represents 2 pounds of CO2 emissions, an amount equal to running a 100-watt light bulb for 17 hours.
- Each four-by-four-foot production module doubles the electricity use of an average U.S. home. The added electricity use is equivalent to running about 30 refrigerators.
- Processed marijuana results in 3000-times its weight in CO2 emissions.
- For off-grid production, it requires 70 gallons of diesel fuel to produce one indoor Cannabis plant, or 140 gallons with smaller, less-efficient gasoline generators.