Why Growing Marijuana Indoors Is a Major Environmental Problem

Environmental wariness and outdoor cultivation will be key for future legal marijuana production in Colorado.

When recreational marijuana use becomes legal in Colorado on January 1, medical retailers expect demand to increase by 400 per cent. Increasing supply to meet that demand will carry with it dramatic economic and environmental costs.

The monthly energy bill for River Rock, a medical marijuana retailer with two dispensaries and a warehouse in the Denver area, exceeds $21,000. According to John Kocer, one of River Rock’s owners, that’s nothing: one of his competitors pays a monthly bill of $100,000 for its warehouse operation. In Colorado and elsewhere in the U.S., the pot industry generates more than enough revenue to pay its bills. The environmental cost of doing business, though, is a different matter.

In 2011, a study by researcher Evan Mills at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory showed indoor marijuana production accounting for 1 per cent of national...

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