How Can We Keep Weed Green? Marijuana Warehouses Are a Massive Energy Suck

When recreational marijuana use becomes legal in Colorado on January 1 , medical retailers expect demand to increase by 400 per cent. Increasing supply to meet that demand will carry with it dramatic economic and environmental costs.

The monthly energy bill for River Rock, a medical marijuana retailer with two dispensaries and a warehouse in the Denver area, exceeds $21,000. According to John Kocer, one of River Rock’s owners, that’s nothing: one of his competitors pays a monthly bill of $100,000 for its warehouse operation. In Colorado and elsewhere in the U.S., the pot industry generates more than enough revenue to pay its bills. The environmental cost of doing business, though, is a different matter.

In 2011, a study by researcher Evan Mills at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory showed indoor marijuana production accounting for 1 per cent of national electricity production, using $6 billion worth of energy per year, and creating greenhouse gas pollution equivalent to that of 3 million cars. Faced with the rapid growth of those numbers, the City of Boulder put into place the kind of environmental regulation ordinarily associated with corporate polluters. Boulder requires marijuana growers to purchase wind or solar energy, or to buy carbon offsets. That increases marijuana growing costs by an estimated 20 per cent.

River Rock’s new 18,000 square foot greenhouse will primarily use solar power, rather than artificial lights.

– Read the entire article at AlterNet.