Legal Marijuana Used Over $6 Billion in Energy Last Year, Report Says

Legal indoor marijuana grows are consuming energy at an exorbitant rate, according to a recent report by a cannabis industry data provider.

While most of legalized marijuana's effects on communities are measured in terms of dollars and crime statistics, electricity usage is becoming an issue of growing concern among environmentalists and industry folk alike. According to pot data firm New Frontier, the marijuana industry used over $6 billion in energy last year, or around 1 percent of the country's energy output — and that number is only expected to grow.

“Both operators and legislators will need to be very mindful of the high energy demands of the legal cannabis industry," New Frontier Founder Giadha Aguirre De Carcer said in a statement. "Companies that adopt the most energy-efficient practices will have an important cost advantage as the industry becomes more competitive and prices fall, and states that prioritize energy efficiency will reduce the fast-growing industry’s impact on the grid and on the environment."

Because of the myriad local regulations that surround it, growing legal marijuana is often confined indoors, requiring the use of intense growing lights, dehumidifiers and ventilation and watering systems. Although some rural communities in southern Colorado, such as Pueblo County, allow commercial outdoor marijuana grows and greenhouses, most municipalities ban them in attempts to keep the grows discreet and less accessible.

As of February 4, the City and County of Denver had 371 registered medical marijuana cultivation facilities and 196 recreational grows, almost all of which are indoor/warehouse operations. The State of Colorado had over 1,200 active licenses for legal marijuana grows as of February 1.

A recent NPR report cited a 10,000-square-foot warehouse grow with LED lights using roughly $12,000 worth of energy per month to cultivate. Some Denver warehouse grows, such as LivWell Enlightened Health's monster facility in north Denver, are as large as 150,000 square feet.

Keep reading for more marijuana events:

Clover Leaf University is offering a Cannabis Extraction class on Tuesday, February 23, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the CLU campus. The class will focus on extraction safety, room layouts, efficient working environments and government compliance. The class costs $299 to attend, and certificates from CLU and the Colorado Department of Higher Education will be presented upon course completion.

CLU  also presents a Budtender 101 class on Thursday, February 25, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the CLU campus. For $199, students will learn how to be lawful, safe, and knowledgeable cannabis sales representatives, beginning with a base understanding of law compliance and consumption safety. Proper dosage, safe consumption and all things involving consumer safety will be covered as well.

Christian/marijuana support group Stoners 4 Jesus — a church group whose members embrace the spiritual connection that cannabis brings them — holds weekly Bible-study meetings from 6 to 8 p.m. every Thursday at Quince Essential Coffee House.

The organizers of the Puff, Pass and Paint classes bring Puff, Pass and Pottery to Denver on Friday, February 26, at 7 p.m. at 2087 South Grant Street. For $55 ($63 for non-locals), students will choose a color and glaze and take instruction from local potter Jessa Decker-Smith while getting an eye-glaze of their own. Firing is included — but pick up your pottery no more than ten days after class. Bring your own cannabis (and booze, if you want). 21+

Investing in the legal marijuana industry is both interesting and full of unique risks, but you can attack the pot trade like a true venture capitalist after attending Investing in Cannabis Companies — a "How to" Investment Workshop on Saturday, February 27, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Potenza Lodge. Designed for novice and veteran investors alike, the conference will cover both private and public cannabis businesses, the risk/reward factor of investing in pot, how to open a brokerage account and more. Tickets to attend are $149, and virtual attendance is also available. 

Know of an event that should be in the Cannabis Calendar? Send it to [email protected]
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Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for
Contact: Thomas Mitchell

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