Marijuana might look and smell natural, but its ecological footprint is anything but green. The $3.5 billion cannabis industry is one of the nation’s most energy intensive, often demanding 24-hour indoor lighting rigs, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems at multiplying grow sites.
As many as ten states could legalize recreational marijuana this year, which means the resultant electricity consumption could cause problems for public utilities and city officials. The Guardian reports that last summer in Portland, Oregon, Pacific Power reported seven outages from cannabis production. Portland General Electric (PGE) experienced similar blows.
Although "rewards" programs are sprouting up to encourage energy-efficient and environment-friendly technologies, lighting companies are expected to profit handsomely, as lighting continues to account for 80% of any indoor grower’s electricity use.