COLORADO: As a growing number of states flirt with marijuana legalization, they must grapple with how best to bring a multi-billion dollar industry out from the shadows and into the light of the regulated, tax-paying world. While both sides of the legalization debate cherry pick the results of these experiments to support their particular point of view, the new reality on the ground has highlighted one facet that few are talking about: marijuana production is a huge power suck.
At least producing marijuana indoors is a big fat electricity hog, which is how the vast majority of legal growhouses still operate. This issue is destined to become more pronounced in Colorado next month when the state opens the doors for standalone production facilities. Previously, the state had an inefficient system in which production facilities had to be vertically integrated with retail outlets. This coming phase has prompted a run on warehouse spaces around the Centennial State, foretelling a rush of new electron-thirsty grow operations.
Traditionally, marijuana production has been an indoor activity—for understandable reasons. But why is a now kinda-sorta-legal plant still grown the same way it was under total prohibition? There’s a number of contributing factors.
For one, there’s a certain amount of inertia from an industry that grew up indoors—right or wrong, there is a pervasive idea that indoor cultivation gives growers a control over their product that might not be achievable outside. Some is due to security concerns (it’s still amostly cash business, though this will likely change with time). However, the biggest contributor might just be the evolving and conflicting patchwork of state and federal laws that make normal energy-efficient production process unfeasible. For now.