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Energy consumption and environmental impacts associated with cannabis cultivation

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Title: Energy consumption and environmental impacts associated with cannabis cultivation
Author: Arnold, Jessica
Abstract: According to the United States Department of Justice, Humboldt County, California leads the nation in the number of indoor-grown Cannabis plants eradicated by law enforcement officials. Electricity used to power indoor grow operations can be costly, especially when compared to the alternative of growing plants outside under sunlight. While benefits of indoor cultivation include security, more control over the growing environment, and the ability to continuously supply fresh product, one major drawback is greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation. Since the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996, which legalized medicinal Cannabis in California, per capita residential electricity consumption in Humboldt County has become greater than that of the average Californian, despite the lack of air conditioning load in the coastal zone. This increase is believed to be directly related to indoor Cannabis cultivation. Although as affirmed by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Drug Enforcement Agency, it is difficult to quantify exact amounts of electricity consumption related to this clandestine industry. This thesis presents results of an investigation on the energy consumption and environmental impacts associated with Cannabis cultivation. Focus was directed at indoor marijuana production in Humboldt County, California. The economic feasibility of small-scale indoor Cannabis production in Arcata, California was analyzed and factors that contribute to production decisions were evaluated. A study of medical Cannabis dispensaries was conducted to estimate the amount of electricity consumed per quantity of medicinal-grade marijuana produced at different indoor cultivation facilities. Possible Cannabis cultivation energy efficiency gains are presented as efficiency measures for buildings, equipment, methods, and regulations. The relationship between medicinal product quality assurance and energy efficient practices is considered. Looking beyond the thesis, this information is summarized for Cannabis policy makers, cultivators, and consumers. A reduction in electricity consumption related to indoor Cannabis cultivation could be achieved with appropriate public policy and information dissemination. Federal prohibition of Cannabis is a significant hindrance to local and state regulation of this industry, keeping black market prices high and reducing growers’ incentive to comply with environmental standards. The objective of this thesis is to address inefficient energy use associated with illicit Cannabis production in a burgeoning legal market.
Description: Thesis (M.S.)--Humboldt State University, Environmental Systems: Energy, Environment, and Society, 2013
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2148/1461
Date: 2013-05

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  • Masters Theses [874]
    A collection of selected Masters Theses in electronic format.

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