You say weed does a body good, and California voters agree with you.

But while it might be natural and medicinal, green is, well, not so green. Especially these days, with so much of the stuff you like — hydroponic — grown indoors. That takes electricity, which burns fossil fuel, mostly.

And that means your cannabis habit has a pretty large carbon footprint, at least according to a new study from California energy analyst Evan Mills. In fact …

… he estimates that indoor grows — with all the high-power lights, ventilation systems, heating, water pumps — uses up the equivalent of 2 percent of national household energy use.

This green takes a lot of electricity.; Credit: DEA

This green takes a lot of electricity.; Credit: DEA

In California it's more like 8 percent of household energy consumption, says Mills, a researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Indoor weed growing costs $5 billion a year in utility bills, and pollutes our air at the same rate as 3 million cars, he says.

Even smoking one joint is not so eco-conscious, at least if it's hydroponic:

From the perspective of individual consumers, a single Cannabis cigarette represents 2 pounds of CO2 emissions, an amount equal to running a 100-watt light bulb for 17 hours with average U.S. electricity …

Any good news here? Yes, if granny still grows it on her windowsill, she's still green. “Outdoor production involves particularly low energy inputs,” Mills writes.

The rest of you who get it at the pot shop, well, it might be green, but you're burning more than hydro.


LA Weekly