A Congressman from Georgia spearheaded the initiative to pen a letter to the Biden administration this week, joined by a colleague who says that nationwide marijuana legalization poses a threat to the nation’s energy grid.
Rep. Buddy Carter, a pharmacist from Georgia’s 1st congressional district, wrote the letter with Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado. The duo argued that there are “serious concerns regarding the energy and resource-intensive nature of marijuana cultivation.” The letter also said the practice would pose a threat to the nation’s environmental goals.
Addressed to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Energy Information Administration Administrator Joseph DeCarolis, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, the letter calls for more research, noting that “marijuana cultivation alone accounts for 1% of nationwide energy consumption and uses twice as much water as maize, soybeans, wheat, and wine grapes.”
In the letter, members of Congress refer to the California Independent System Operator and Midcontinent Independent System Operator, who echo their concerns, warning that “the potential for capacity shortages and blackouts only rises” if marijuana is legalized nationwide.
“As Congress debates whether to advance marijuana legalization, the American people must have a better understanding of the environmental costs of this rapidly growing industry. If the Administration seeks to reduce emissions and protect our environment as aggressively as it has previously committed, we must have a comprehensive view of where emissions and other pollution occurs, as they will likely only grow.”
The Congressman also asked for a series of questions to be answered by November 30, 2022, including:
- How does current marijuana legalization impact state energy consumption and emission levels?
- How would federal legalization of marijuana affect national energy consumption and emission levels?
- What is the anticipated growth of energy usage and emissions from the marijuana industry?
- How will growing energy demands from the marijuana industry affect the reliability of our electric grid?
- What impact do illegal marijuana growing operations have on the country’s water supply?
- What harms do illegal marijuana growers’ use of various fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides pose to wildlife, habitats, and humans in the United States?
The reference to ‘nationwide marijuana legalization’ is seemingly misleading based on the current proposals pending before lawmakers. Last month, Senate Democrats unveiled their proposal for marijuana legalization, which effectively leaves the matter to the states after removing the drug from the Controlled Substances Act. The measure would also:
- expunge all prior federal criminal convictions related to marijuana,
- create funding for law enforcement agencies to crack down on the illegal cultivation of marijuana,
- direct the DOT & HHS to research the effects of cannabis on driving for the purposes of creating legal limits on the substance,
- establish grants for small businesses seeking to enter the industry, and
- restrict marketing so it does not target minors.
You can read the full letter below.