Energy Up in Smoke

Quantifying the carbon footprint of indoor cannabis production and identifying business and policy solutions

What kind of facility contains lighting as intense as that found in an operating room (500-times more than needed for reading), six-times the air-change rate of a biotech laboratory and 60-times that of a home, and the electric power intensity of a data center? The emergent industry of indoor cannabis production results in prodigious energy use, costs, and greenhouse-gas pollution. Large-scale industrialized and highly energy-intensive indoor cultivation of cannabis is driven by criminalization, pursuit of security, and the desire for greater process control and yields. In the US alone, the yearly greenhouse-gas pollution (carbon dioxide, CO2 ) from the electricity plus associated transportation fuels equals that of 3 million cars, and a whopping $6 billion annual energy bill.  Solution: outdoor cultivation, only.