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Green progressives pushed for pot legalization for years. Now marijuana is posing a major 'inconvenient' threat to the climate.
Photo by Gerardo Vieyra/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Green progressives pushed for pot legalization for years. Now marijuana is posing a major 'inconvenient' threat to the climate.

Left-wing progressives have spent literally decades calling for the legalization of weed, and their efforts have seen a lot of successes. Dozens of states have legalized or decriminalized pot — and ganja has likely never been more popular than it is today.

But as the popularity of cannabis has grown, so has the drug's impact on global warming, Politico reported this week in a write-up headlined, "An inconvenient truth (about weed)."

According to the outlet, Mary Jane's "carbon emissions have never posed a bigger threat to the climate."

What's happening?

The growth of dope's acceptance in American culture and the state-by-state rules governing its cultivation has made it "one of the most energy-intensive crops in the nation," the paper said, adding that "as states increasingly embrace marijuana, a growing source of greenhouse gases is going essentially unnoticed by climate hawks on Capitol Hill."

A big reason for grass' inordinate levels of energy consumption is the fact that it's grown mostly indoors with special lighting and environmental controls that consume up to 2,000 watts of electricity per square meter, Politico said — 40 times what it takes for leafy greens like lettuce to be grown indoors.

The reefer industry is responsible for more than 1% of all U.S. electricity consumption, Politico reported, citing citing a research report titled, "Energy Use by the Indoor Cannabis Industry: Inconvenient Truths for Producers, Consumers, and Policymakers."

The outlet provided a few specific examples:

  • researchers estimate that Massachusetts' new blaze industry accounted for 10% of the state's entire industrial electricity consumption last year;
  • a study reported that the energy required to grow enough bud for a single joint (one gram) was equivalent to the energy used to drive a fuel-efficient car 20 miles;
  • another report out of Europe found that each average indoor grow operation uses more power than 14 typical homes; and
  • the illegal drug market goes through fossil fuels at an even greater clip, "using standalone generators or stealing power from neighbors to fuel their operations."

And the problem, Politico said, is just going to get worse, considering that, with recent successful legalization efforts in various states (including New York), a third of the country — 100 million people — live in a state where bud is legal for anyone 21 or order. And most suppliers in those states will be cultivating their crops indoors, "laying the groundwork for skyrocketing electricity consumption created by the new markets."

Adam Smith, who heads up the Craft Cannabis Alliance, told Politico, "New York, with 20 million people, growing every ounce of [cannabis] ... indoors, under lights, in temperature control, is neither economically sustainable nor competitive. Nor is it environmentally sane."

Unsurprisingly, many left-wing politicians who have advocated for legal herb and have watched it grow as an industry while also parading around the country touting a far-left green agenda are largely ignorant on the issue:

Despite the huge climate impact of the nation's fastest-growing new industry — legal sales jumped 50 percent last year, topping $20 billion, while the industry added almost 80,000 jobs — Biden, most lawmakers and many environmental groups, even those supportive of cannabis legalization, have largely ignored the issue.

“Honestly, I haven't thought a whole lot about it," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who made both marijuana legalization and climate change pillars of his 2020 presidential campaign, said in an interview earlier this year. “I'm not familiar with that issue."

And as Politico said, it's not just elected officials who have a blind spot: Environmental groups are bad on the issue, too.

So far, groups like the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Earthjustice have essentially ignored the topic.

(H/T: HotAir)

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Chris Field

Chris Field

Chris Field is the former Deputy Managing Editor of TheBlaze.