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Washington's Not-So-Green Marijuana Industry

After Washington legalized marijuana in 2012, an indoor cultivation industry has grown to a sizable presence in the state's environmental footprint.
October 9, 2017, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Indoor Grow Room

John Stang reports on the surprisingly large environmental footprint of the nascent indoor marijuana cultivation industry in the state of Washington.

A new report by the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area—the second if its kind since the state legalized recreational marijuana sales in 2012—presents a somewhat surprising portrait of marijuana cultivation, both legal and illegal, around the state.

"Marijuana growers and processors use 1.63 percent of the state’s electricity," writes Stang, which is enough electricity to power 2 million homes. "The carbon footprint, according to the report, equals that of about 3 million cars," adds Stang. There are more environmental impacts of the industry, such as the huge amount of water being siphoned off for grow operations and the encroachment of illegal grow sites on state-owned public lands.

Stang also shares some of the public health safety statistics included in the report.

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Published on Monday, October 9, 2017 in Crosscut
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