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The Pot Business has an Energy Efficiency Problem

image credit: ID 135804724 © Eric Limon |

Among other things, the 2010’s will be remembered in America as the decade of legalized Marijuana. Kicked off by Washington state and Colorado in 2012, the green wave has since spread to nine other states and it seems destined to proliferate further in the new decade. As with any new industry, legal pot has brought a smorgasbord of unforeseen consequences with it—both good and bad. Much of the media’s attention has centered around health concerns, marijuana’s economic impact, and related legislative issues—like how to police driving while stoned. That’s all very interesting, but it doesn’t have much to do with the energy business. Marijuana, however, does in fact have a lot to do with utilities—because the plant, which is most commonly grown indoors these days, sucks up a lot of electricity.

Concerns over energy use in the pot industry have come to the surface in Massachusetts, a state that legalized marijuana in 2016 and is currently in the middle of a well publicized initiative to cut carbon emissions. The state’s efforts to reconcile the two new ventures are detailed in an article on 

“The state Cannabis Control Commission has established some of the country’s strictest regulations to encourage energy efficiency by growers. As a result, companies are experimenting with everything from LED lighting to systems that recapture and reuse water.”

“In 2018, Massachusetts became the first state to set a specific standard for lighting, requiring large cultivators not to exceed 36 watts per square foot and small growers not to exceed 50 watts. Illinois has since imposed a similar standard.”

Starting in 2020, growers will be required to submit energy efficiency plans and reports on their energy use to both apply for and renew growing permits. Some of the older businesses, however, will have extra time to get their facilities up to code. 

I’d love to hear from members here who have better insights into the marijuana business’s tax on the grid and efforts to moderate it.


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