Worries Over Marijuana Industry’s Energy Use in Nevada

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Nevada has no shortage of sunshine, but medical marijuana cultivators aren’t allowed to use natural lighting under the state’s MMJ law and instead must turn to high-cost, power-sucking lamps to grow plants.

The law – which says cannabis plants can’t be visible to outsiders for security reasons – is creating a quandary for growers who want to use less power. It’s also raising concerns among energy and state officials over how much electricity the industry will actually use.

On top of high power use and high costs to run bulbs around the clock, growers must also worry about cooling indoor grow sites.

A single cultivation site could use up to 5 megawatts of capacity, enough to power 1,000 homes, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. That may require upgrades to the existing power grid.

To offset the large amount of electricity growers use, companies are trying to find ways to make cannabis production more sustainable. Some are considering taking advantage of the abundance of sunlight in Nevada and use solar power or skylights that allow sunlight in.

Still, experts told the Review-Journal that indoor grows will always require a lot of energy to operate.