Cannabis growing in large commerical greenhouse

Cannabis and Energy Law Project

Regulating the energy use of commercial cannabis cultivation facilities

The cannabis industry already accounts for at least 1% of all electricity consumption in the U.S.

How can lawmakers fairly and effectively regulate electricity use by growers?

State law legalization of cannabis has resulted in a boom of cannabis commerce. In 2020, legal sales in the United States totaled a record $17.5 billion dollars, almost a 50% increase from the previous year. In 2021, the regulated cannabis industry’s market value was approximately $27 billion.

Most states require commercial cannabis cultivation to occur indoors. Maintaining the requisite climate and lighting for quality crops requires nearly continuous inputs of electricity– up to an astounding 2,000 watts per minute! These facilities put pressure on the electric grid and often consume electricity sourced from fossil fuels.

State and local lawmakers have begun to regulate the electricity consumption of commercial cannabis cultivation facilities. Growers are often required to meet certain energy efficiency standards, engage in energy planning and reporting, or ensure their energy comes from renewable sources. These restrictions can help improve the sustainability of cannabis cultivation, but must be thoughtfully implemented to ensure equitable access to the cannabis market.

About the Cannabis and Energy Law Project

Using smart policy to make cannabis cultivation more sustainable.

This project researches and identifies the range of regulatory requirements that have been applied to cultivation facilities through state and/or municipal laws, including rules for outdoor growth, energy planning and reporting, energy efficiency, and renewable energy consumption.

References:

Evan Mills and Scott Zeramby, Energy Use by the Indoor Cannabis Industry, The Routledge Handbook of Post-Prohibition Cannabis Research, May 2021, 6.

Gina S. Warren, Hotboxing the Polar Bear: The Energy and Climate Impacts of Indoor Marijuana Cultivation, 101 B.U. L. Rev. 979, 987 (2021).

Cannabis Business Times, State of the Cannabis Cultivation Industry Report 2021 (2021).

Hailey M. Summers, Evan Sproul, and Jason C. Quinn, The Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Indoor Cannabis Production in the United States, Nature Sustainability 4, no. 7. March 8, 2021, 646. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-021-00691-w