Marijuana study produces hazy results

A new study by a Lawrence Livermore scientist regarding the scope of indoor marijuana cultivation leaves one wondering just what some researchers are smoking.

The study estimates that indoor pot-growing operations in the United States burn about $5 billion worth of electricity annually, or roughly 1 percent of national power consumption, according to a story in the New York Times. That’s enough electricity to power 2 million average homes, the paper adds.

The study was completed by Evan Mills, a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Mills said the study was completed in his free time and without federal funds.

The carbon emissions from indoor pot-growing operations in California are equal to that of about 3 million cars, Mills claims.

Mills claims that his research shows that in California indoor cultivation is responsible for a whopping 8 percent of household electricity usage.

This seems highly improbable, no matter how many pot heads one suspects are running around the Golden State.

As  the Coyote Blog points out, this amount would be larger than the total residential electricity use of Vermont and New Hampshire combined – all for growing pot indoors in California.

If one wanted to do a very simple analysis of Mills’ report, one could extrapolate that his study indicates that one out of every 12 appliances in a California house is dedicated to growing pot. 

(Obviously, not all electricity used in the indoor cultivation of marijuana goes to powering appliances, not all indoor pot is raised in what might be described as a traditional home nor do all electrical components used in marijuana growth consume the same amount of electricity.)

However, even with those caveats it seems all but impossible that 8 percent of California’s electricity is being consumed solely in the growing of cannabis.

Given the size and scope of California’s economy, it’s doubtful that any one activity consumes 8 percent of state’s electricity, never mind one that is done in secret.


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