With Election Day just around the corner, green is on the mind of many California voters. And no, I’m not talking about loathsome, hotly contested Proposition 23 that would repeal the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. I’m referring to Proposition 19, The Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, an initiative that if passed, would essentially legalize marijuana for recreational use in California.

I don’t have much of an opinion on Proposition 19 since I don’t live in California. To be honest, the only cannabis-related cause on my radar is the emergence of criminally underutilized industrial hemp as a viable building material. For more on this, check out my post on this amazing North Carolina home (and yes, I’m guilty as charged of resorting to lame Cheech and Chong jokes in said post ... I couldn't resist). 

Regardless of where you live or what you think about the legalization of recreational marijuana, this recent article from The San Francisco Chronicle is an interesting, eye-opening read. The topic? How “homegrown” gardening operations are anything but green.

The article focuses on Northern California’s Emerald Triangle — Mendocino, Trinity, and Humboldt counties — where indoor marijuana cultivation is serious business. In the city of Arcata alone, several hundred houses are devoted to the indoor growing of this cash crop. In Mendocino County, marijuana accounts for two-thirds of the economy according to MSNBC. However, in these pot-heavy counties, residential fires and home-invasion style robberies are on the rise. And then there’s the not-so-green rise in home electricity consumption.

According to a study conducted by Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University, electrical use per household in urban areas of Humboldt County has shot up gone up 50 percent since 1996, the year California voters approved the state’s groundbreaking medical marijuana initiative. In Arcata and more rural areas, household electricity use has jumped 60 percent. In areas where electricity is iffy, diesel generators are used to power homegrown operations. The use of diesel fuel has dirtied the air and polluted local streams.

Remarks Peter Lehman, director of Schatz Energy Research Center:

The housing inventory in California is continuing to get more efficient. Yet our per-capita use is increasing. Indoor grows have got to be part of it. How much? Nobody knows.
Interesting stuff. I figured that homeowners using dozens of 1,000-watt light bulbs for indoor "gardening" had to have an effect on local electricity supplies. I just didn't know how drastic it was. Head over to the SFgate.com to read the entire article, "Indoor pot makes cash, but isn't green."

Via [San Francisco Chronicle]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

In California, high times equals high electricity use
While Northern California's homegrown cannabis growing operations are 'green' in spirit, this energy-intensive brand of indoor plant cultivation is not without