Since Federal guidelines make it illegal for cannabis to cross state lines, most of the medicinal marijuana companies in the United States operate within individual states. Many of these businesses operate indoors which can be very costly, driving up prices as well as pollution.
At a time when marijuana usage is increasing across the country emissions created by harvesting the plant have never been more of a threat to the environment.
Marijuana growing is among the most energy-intensive crops in the country because of the government’s inconsistent approach to legalizing the plant. Greenhouse gases emitted by growing sources are not being regulated even as more states legalize marijuana.
National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) research shows that over 80% of the country’s cannabis crop is grown indoors using state-of-the-art lighting and environmental controls to boost production. Comparing the energy needs of a leafy greens farming system, which may require 2,000 watts per square meter, with lettuce-growing needs, which only uses 40 times that amount.
For being such a ‘green’ industry, there are some skeletons in the closet.
While several states and growers have tried to cut their power use, these attempts have had only limited success, and energy use in the industry as a whole may be as much as 1% of the overall U.S. electrical use. But federal law also bars the movement of marijuana across state lines, creating a vexing dilemma for both producers and consumers.
Until the major legalization of the plant, this issue will only grow worse.