Legalization of marijuana and environmental impact
There are many groups within New Zealand, including the Green Party, who ask for the legalization of marijuana for personal / medicinal use and my question for them is: – How can they reconcile with the negative environmental effects of cannabis culture?
No matter where he feels in his legalization, marijuana cultivation affects our environment and that can be negative. Interior marijuana cultivation requires abundant electricity through the use of high intensity lamps, air conditioners, dehumidifiers and much more. In order to cultivate it abroad, the streams become sponges and suck dry, as seen in outdoor crops in California.
What happens when marijuana is legalized?
Illegal marijuana growers have generally maintained their crops inside to safeguard against prosecution. Now that marijuana has been decriminalized in some US states. UU., Many will start growing outdoor cannabis, which means that it will require more water consumption. A study by the Department of Fishing and Wildlife of California in 2015 discovered that weed cultivation excessively diverted the water from the streams, which house salmon species in danger of extinction.
Approximately 22 liters of water per day are needed to water marijuana plants, compared to a vinification grapes, which uses 12 liters.
With any expansion of an agricultural culture, the need to cut down more forests arises and build roads. This increases the risk of erosion, river deviation and habitat destruction. Wild animals defend themselves and possibly endanger themselves and others.
There is also the case of contamination with the use of chemicals, which are often used to kill rodents that can damage the crop. These chemicals reach the sewerage system and our water supplies. They also make their way in the food chain and can present important risks to the health of predators.
Using the state of Colorado in the United States as an example, the legalization of cannabis (the recreational grass was approved in a vote throughout the state in 2012) has revitalized the industrial areas of Denver that had been in ruins and generated more than $ 1,000 millions a year in taxable sales. But the voracious energy consumption of producers is touching the city’s ambitions to reduce greenhouse gases. And since approximately half of all US states. UU. Now they allow cannabis for various uses, cultivation in greenhouses is a growing concern for governors and mayors who promise to fill a vacuum in emission reduction.
Evan Mills, a senior scientist at the University of California, was one of the first researchers in quantify. UU., A figure backed by a New Frontier studio last year.
The lighting can cover up to half of the energy consumption of a cannabis grower, with the desire to create a 24 -hour version of the natural culture conditions that require highly powerful high pressure sodium sodium lights (HPS). As a result, producing only a couple of pounds of marijuana can have the same environmental cost as driving seven times in the United States.
“The legalization of recreational or medicinal marijuana in eight states, including California, Florida and Massachusetts, means that some of the nation’s progress towards solutions for climate change are in the bite as regulators continue to ignore the growing trace of Carbon of this industry ".
The use of electricity in Denver has increased at a rate of more than 1% per year, with almost half of that increase due to marijuana cultivation facilities, said the city. While just a small percentage of Denver’s electricity is used by cannabis operations, they are much more intensive in square footing than most of the other types of companies. This demand, in turn, promotes the use of fossil fuels, because Colorado obtains most of its energy from coal power plants.
"It is definitely an area of concern," said Emily Backus, a sustainability advisor to the city. Denver aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, largely through the promotion of renewable energy, the improvement of buildings efficiency and the promotion of public transport and electric cars.
Denver also signed the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement with Mayor Michael Hancock, denouncing the ‘would be threat to our economy and way of life’ that represents global warming. To calibrate the conditions to reap multiple crops a year, producers must bake the plants in light while lighting the air conditioning to ensure that the rooms are kept at a finely balanced temperature. A dehumidifier is used to prevent mold, carbon dioxide is pumped to boost growth and fans imitate the presence of a breeze. Irrigation systems are often hoses connected to plants, which lead to water tubs. The objective is healthy and heavy shoots.
All this uses a lot of energy and LEDs, despite saving a lot of energy, they have been considered by many producers as less effective and more expensive than HPS lights. The cannabis industry is often pigened as very heavy users of resources. LEDs are not in themselves a perfect answer. Because marijuana generally takes longer to mature with LED, it can result in not saving much energy.
Marijuana can be seen and smell naturally, but its ecological footprint is anything but green. Marijuana is hungry for power. The US cannabis industry of $ 3.5 billion is one of the most intensive in the country; often demanding 24 -hour interior lighting equipment, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in multiple cultivation sites.
Up to 10 states could legalize recreational marijuana this year, which means that resulting electricity consumption could cause problems for public services and city officials. A study by scientist Evan Mills, with the National Lawrence Berkeley laboratory, revealed that legal marijuana culture operations in indoor represent 1% of the total use of electricity in the USA. UU., At a cost of $ 6 billion per year. Annually, this consumption produces 15 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2), equivalent to those of three million average cars.
In 2012, Colorado became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. Two years later, Denver’s 362 marijuana cultivation plants consumed more than 2% of the city’s electricity consumption. The state facilities are behind approximately half of the new Colorado energy demands. Electricity represents approximately 20% of the total cost of a cannabis operation.
In Boulder County during the second quarter of 2015, an indoor cannabis installation of 5,000 square feet consumed approximately 29,000 kilowatt (kWh) of electricity monthly. A local home in the county consumed approximately 630kwh. In other states where the recreational market has taken off, cannabis production is having a similar effect.
According to a report by the Northwest Conservation and Energy Council in Oregon, where recreational marijuana has been legal since 2014, an interior cultivation system for only four plants absorbs as much energy as 29 refrigerators. The report also estimated that the emerging market could justify the electricity demands of a small city in the next 20 years. High energy levels confirm that the marijuana business is growing.
Cultivation operations consume $ 6 billion per year or sufficient energy to supply 1.7 million American homes. The industry is not as green as it seems. Growth consumes electricity for powerful lamps, CO2 generators, fans and air conditioning. On a personal scale, as much electricity is needed to produce a joint amount of cannabis as lighting a bulb for 25 hours.
In some cannabis lovers, such as California, marijuana production represented 3 percent of the state’s total energy production. Evan Mills is a member of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. ‘Most key parts are not yet committed. California and other places have begun to address the destructive impacts of unregulated outdoor crop, but they have not yet recognized which could be the even greater environmental consequences of the prodigious amounts of energy used by interior operations, ”said Mills .
Outdoor production also has environmental consequences with deforestation and high levels of water and pesticides, but outdoor producers will have to comply with pre -existing environmental laws, like everyone else. Indeed, that makes interior production the main concern of climate change and energy.
As the industry grows, so will its negative impacts, therefore, legalize the use of marijuana should also require the growing industry to feed in a clean way. Annual electricity consumption in the US. UU. With the purpose of growing marijuana produces 15 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2), equivalent to those of three million average cars.
So, we have these groups asking for the legalization of marijuana on the one hand and also asking for steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions on the other. They are quite vowel about blaming agriculture and burning fossil fuels due to the country’s GHG emissions, but it seems that, making the US consumption. UU as an example of the possible effects of legalization in New Zealand, that logic does not enter your thinking that it is self-satisfaction (the Nimby Thought style attacks again).