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New law makes clean energy mandatory for medicinal marijuana growers

Boulder, Colorado forces licensed marijuana providers to offset their electricity usage with wind or solar power. A boon for the clean energy industry or just another drug bust?

I don't have much of a green thumb, but apparently growing marijuana—or say, tomatoes—indoors is murder on the energy bill. Powerful grow lights, ventilators, and fans suck electricity for several hours at a time.

But Boulder, Colorado is doing something about the industry's energy usage. (Colorado legalized medicinal marijuana in 2000.)

Possibly concerned with greenhouse gas emissions—or out of concern for what's growing in particular greenhouses—Boulder City Council passed regulations last week forcing any medicinal marijuana dispensary that grows its own pot to use 100 percent percent clean energy to so.

On the state level, Colorado's Governor Bill Ritter has also been seeking to reform the cannabis industry and is expected to pass further restrictions very soon. Included in this set of laws is a provision requiring every Colorado dispensary to grow at least 70 percent of its own product.

Together the city/state regulation combo forces Boulder's 100 or so dispensaries to grow their marijuana as well as to offset all of their electricity use with wind or solar power. Outside of purchasing their own solar or wind systems, the weed farmers could join Xcel Energy's Windsource program.

Heath Urie of Boulder's Daily Camera reports:

Buying enough Windsource to offset 100 percent of an average small businesses' electricity would add $26 a month to their utility bills, an increase of about 21 percent. It's not clear how much more electricity an average marijuana growing operation requires.

Ernie Travis, a co-owner of Boulder Vital Herbs, 2527 Broadway, said his electric bill is about triple the average small business—at $600 to $700 a month.

For small business owners, this is a big hit to take financially.

Regardless of how one feels about legalizing medicinal marijuana or promoting clean energy, licensed medicinal marijuana growers are not the biggest carbon dioxide producers in Colorado. Specifically targeting energy regulations for a single, and relatively small industry, seems a bit off base.

Image: Wikipedia
Via: Treehugger

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com