Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Yet Another Reason To Keep Pot Illegal!

Global warming.  My first reaction when I saw the headline was to snicker loudly:

People growing marijuana indoors use 1 percent of the U.S. electricity supply, and they create 17 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year (not counting the smoke exhaled) according to a report by Evan Mills, an energy analyst at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
After medical pot use was made legal in California in 1996, Mills says, per-person residential electricity use in Humboldt County jumped 50 percent compared to other parts of the state.
I am not quite sure that I believe this.  Either a big chunk of Humboldt County is growing pot, or the amount of electricity to run those Gro-Lites is just beyond belief! Perhaps we need to build nuclear power plants to keep the potheads happy.


  1. People growing marijuana indoors use 1 percent of the U.S. electricity supply

    I agree that this simply does not pass the laugh test at a glance.

    Perhaps he meant "1% of retail domestic consumption"? That edges on almost vaguely plausible, though I still find it hard to credit.

    But if we try to include commercial use, that's difficult to grasp - according to the DOE, the US consumed 3.714 BILLION kwh (or 3.714 Terawatt Hours) in 2009.

    About 1/3 of it is residential.

    1% of that overall total would be ... 37 gigawatt-hours.

    4.22 megawatts every hour all year, and that's 70,300 60 watt bulbs burning at all times.

    If we cut that by a third to just residential use, that's 23 thousand-odd 60-watt-bulb-equivalents.

    Put in those terms, however, it looks less implausible. (Or maybe my math failed and we're off by a few orders of magnitude!)

    Though, given how much US marijuana production is outdoors, that still seems impossibly high. (Especially since growers everywhere it's not legal - which is most places - like to minimize power usage, as both the power and heat attract attention!)

    On the other hand, I can't find in that execrable article a link to the actual report the that did the calculations, and if he's extrapolating from California to the whole country, that's mad. California isn't even the #1 consumer of electricity - and to extrapolate from "3%" of the use in California to 1% nationwide seems dubious.

    Not impossible. But dubious.

  2. (Also, it looks like - since I can't see the post I send in now to double-check - that I might have been off by three orders of magnitude by misreading the DOE page's 3,741 BkWh as 3.741 BkWh.

    If I did so, then it's very implausible.)

  3. It seems to me that INDOOR cannabis cultivation would be more common if it's illegal, than if it's legal. Why not just grow it in the garden spot? (Maybe they don't get enough sunshine, down Humboldt way, because the redwoods shade everything. Or maybe it would get stolen by unscrupulous tokers.)

  4. As a Humboldt county expat I can add that much of the indoor pot operations there are off grid. The use of diesel generators (that are supplied by Renner Petroleum delivery tanker trucks) is quite significant. The indoor growers are probably being "squeezed"significantly by the recent runup in the cost of untaxed off-road diesel fuel. Heh!