Environment

Legal Weed Fights Climate Change

SK Ashby
Written by SK Ashby

If you personally know someone who is still on the fence about legalizing marijuana, you may be able to convince them with this.

I can't say I've ever considered the environmental impact of farming pot in basements and indoor greenhouses, but the numbers are apparently pretty staggering. Growing marijuana consumes as much as 10 percent of industrial energy output in some states.

According to a study published by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, indoor cannabis production requires as much as 2,000 watts of electricity per square meter. Overall it's costing about $6 billion per year, and it's responsible for more than 1% of total energy use in the United States — the equivalent of adding 3 million cars to our roads.

The state-by-state breakdown looks even worse. Take Massachusetts, for example. According to a report from MassLive, the indoor cultivation of cannabis there is now responsible for 10% of the state's entire industrial electricity usage. In Colorado, a recent study found that the state's cannabis farms have a larger carbon footprint than its coal mines. Given all this, it shouldn't come as a major surprise that weed is the most energy-intensive crop grown in the country. [...]

That same study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that there is just 50 watts of electricity per square meter needed to grow weed crops outside — a reduction of 97.5% of the total energy consumption.

Marijuana prohibition is a legacy of the War on Drugs that penalized minorities far more than white people and that's the best reason to legalize it, but fighting climate change, too, is a bonus.

I have never smoked weed because I have enough others things to worry about even without doing something illegal, but if it's ever legalized in Ohio I will certainly join those who already partake.