According to Colorado Public Radio News (CPR), data from the Department of Public Health and Environment in Denver indicates that 4 percent (4%) of the city’s total electricity use is now devoted to the growth of marijuana. Cannabis, which has been legal in the state for medical use since 2000 (with the passage of Amendment 20), and for recreational use since 2012 (with the passage of Amendment 64 in 2012, although recreational sales did not begin until 2014), has brought a significant increase in energy consumption to the city of Denver, with information indicating that the marijuana industry went from using 1.5% of total Denver electricity usage in 2012 to nearly 4% in 2016.
Denver city officials have indicated that they would like to reduce city greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, and are encouraging more energy-efficient growing practices among the city’s growers, who primarily grow indoors. Energy efficient changes that growers could make would include swapping out fluorescent lights (traditionally used in growing cannabis) for more energy-efficient LED lights (which are more expensive to purchase, but save money over time) and working to refine cooling systems to decrease energy consumption.
The article quotes Tim Cullen, from Colorado Harvest Company, as saying, “I think this will be a short 10-20 year period in Colorado’s cannabis history that changes in the future as marijuana is more socially accepted and federally accepted, and production methods are allowed to be more agricultural and less clandestine.”
The CPR articles notes that changes may be coming in the Colorado cannabis industry, including moves towards a more traditional agriculture setup, including greenhouses and outdoor growing operations, which are currently more common in other Colorado cities like Pueblo.