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Smoking A Joint Could Ruin Your Carbon Footprint

Smoking A Joint Could Ruin Your Carbon Footprint

Marijuana growers are responsible for 1 percent of all energy consumption in the U.S. according to a new report.

Evan Mills, a longtime energy analyst at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, recently completed a study aimed at quantifying a previously undocumented component of energy demand in the United States: the marijuana industry.

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.

These findings become even more remarkable when Mills breaks them down into easy to visualize terms. For instance:

  • Smoking a single Cannabis cigarette represents 2 pounds of CO2 emissions, an amount equal to running a 100-watt light bulb for 17 hours with average U.S. electricity.
  • A four-by-four-foot marijuana production module doubles the electricity use of an average U.S. home and triples that of an average California home. The added electricity use is equivalent to running about 30 refrigerators. Processed Cannabis results in 3000-times its weight in CO2 emissions.
  • For off-grid production (i.e. secret grow houses in the woods), it requires 70 gallons of diesel fuel to produce one indoor Cannabis plant, or 140 gallons with smaller, less-efficient gasoline generators.

Yikes! Those kinds of stats can really ruin your buzz.

With medical marijuana slowly finding its way back into mainstream cuture and legalization legislation finding its way on to a growing number of state ballots, it’s important to put the stoner jokes aside and think about ways to reduce this industry’s impact on the environment.

Mills says the energy use for indoor Cannabis production can be reduced dramatically. Cost-effective efficiency improvements of 75% are conceivable, which would yield energy savings of about $25,000/year for a generic 10-module growing room. Shifting cultivation outdoors eliminates most energy uses (aside from transport), although the practice can impose other environmental impacts.

Related Reading:

Marijuana That Doesn’t Get You High: Breakthrough Pain Killer? 

Marijuana’s Social And Environmental Mayhem: Can Pot Ever Be Green? 

Medical Marijuana Gains Ground 

Arizona Becomes 15th State To Approve Medical Marijuana

via Fast Company


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Image Credit: Flickr - ElPablo!

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8:01AM PST on Nov 21, 2012

Yes, indeed, legalize weed, let it be grown in the sunshine - and let Mother Nature have a little buzz.

She could probably use one by now...

11:38AM PDT on May 15, 2012

Interesting!!! Bth and marjuana are big carbon footprint generators

6:53PM PDT on Apr 23, 2012


4:37AM PDT on Apr 29, 2011

Thank you for the information

5:17AM PDT on Apr 26, 2011


5:45AM PDT on Apr 23, 2011

that is funny

1:14PM PDT on Apr 21, 2011

When the thousands of jets that take off and land in this country every day find a cleaner way to fly... and when Ty stops "blowing up houses" on Extreme Makeover... maybe I'll worry about someone growing a pot plant inside or smoking a joint. But until then? Nah...

7:43PM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

Just legalize the stuff & tax it. Photosynthesis is free.

1:58PM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

It's worth it!!!

3:13AM PDT on Apr 19, 2011

Weed is harmless.A lot of people smoke it,remember just the"hippy"times.Weed should be legalized,It`s not so much different then cigarettes,It`s eve healthier and better in some way because it`s not that toxic.In some states weed is legalized but only for medical purposes and use.The scientists showed that weed really does help to pacients.

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