GLOBAL: Cannabis The Climate Catastrophe??

EMISSIONS: Colorado struggles with marijuana’s huge carbon footprint

John Fialka, E&E special correspondent man smoking marijuana

Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal, holds an annual marijuana “holiday” every April. But federal officials say the growing popularity of indoor grow houses in particular is compromising the state’s ability to meet ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets. Photo courtesy of AP Images.

Second of a two-part series on the carbon and energy footprint of Colorado’s marijuana industry. Click here to read the first part.

DENVER — Colorado, which gets 60 percent of its electricity from coal-burning power plants, has set some of the more ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets in the United States. It wants to cut emissions from its power plants 38 percent by 2030. Denver, its largest city, has a plan to cut 80 percent of all of its emissions by midcentury.

One of the immediate problems of the target-setters, however, is that the state lacks plans from its fastest-growing, most energy-hungry users: owners of indoor marijuana farms.

This city has over 300 of them, from the licensed, cavernous warehouses downtown where workers wear sunglasses and sunblock to prevent damage from banks of 1,000-watt lightbulbs to an unknown number of clandestine “grow houses” in the suburbs, often rented homes whose tenants sometimes hide their massive electricity use by stealing it before it hits their meters.

What’s worrisome about this to Colorado and other states planning to follow its pioneering example by legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana is that the power needs of the industry are helping to push electricity use up, not down.

Last year, Denver announced its plan to accelerate its timetable and cut electricity uses by 7 percent in three years. But then it was informed by the electric utility that serves it, Xcel Energy Inc., that the city’s electricity use was rising by 1.2 percent a year and that 45 percent of that increase appeared to be coming from indoor pot-growing.

That led to the formation of the Cannabis Sustainability Work Group, composed of city officials and representatives from the marijuana-growing industry, to see if something can be done to keep Denver’s greenhouse gas reduction goals from becoming unreachable. Emily Backus, a city Department of Environmental Health official, said the group has met monthly since January. She found the pot growers both interested and wary.

They are interested because electricity is a “huge percentage of their operating costs,” explained Backus. They are wary because private consultants who sell them various expensive “energy-saving” lamps for growing marijuana plants “have put a lot of bad products on the market that didn’t produce the yield or the potency that they need.”

Moving indoors for higher THC

In the increasingly competitive pot industry that has blossomed here, more growers are moving inside to get the brilliant lighting and controlled temperatures needed to get multiple crops, production that helps them pay their huge electricity bills.

As for potency, Denver growers aim for a product that contains 17 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive drug that produces the high. Some members of Denver’s city council are trying to cap the THC level at 15 percent, but growers of the city’s exotic, genetically modified plants say they need the higher drug potency to remain competitive.

Budding marijuana plants

Budding marijuana plants, some the size of small trees, sit under the blazing lights and elaborate ventilation and air conditioning systems in a Colorado grow house after a raid by federal, state and local law enforcement officers. Photo courtesy of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“Growers would be forced to destroy their strains and start over, something that’s not economically or practically feasible,” said Michael Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, which functions as its trade association.

By contrast, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which worries about the addictive and mental health problems that stronger pot poses to children and teenagers, the THC content of pot-growing in the 1990s ran around 5 percent.

But producing more potent pot pushed the industry’s electricity use to 2.2 percent of Denver’s energy use in 2014, according to the city. Meanwhile, Denver is trying hard to meet its 2020 sustainability goal, which requires it to cut fossil fuel consumption by 50 percent from 2012 levels.

A commonly discussed energy-reduction remedy would be to require growers to use powerful light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, but Backus, who is co-chair of the Cannabis Sustainability Work Group, said growers complain that the light from the bulbs doesn’t “produce the potency that the grower is looking for.”

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Marijuana’s Ecological Impact

The utterly staggering cost to environment (and on energy and water consumption) by Cannabis production (driven by demand just to get high??) is never raised by pro-weed lobby! No true environmentalist would promote pot!

Check out

Integral Ecology Research and

Silent Poison



CHINA: China to Cash in on Cannabis – But at whose expense?

Cannabis factories open doors in villages as China looks to cash in on drug demand

Steven Lee Myers May 5, 2019

China has made your iPhone, your Nike shoes and, chances are, the lights on your Christmas tree. Now, it wants to grow your cannabis.

Two of China’s 34 regions are quietly leading a boom in cultivating cannabis to produce cannabidiol, or CBD, the non-intoxicating compound that has become a consumer health and beauty craze in the United States and beyond.

They are doing so even though cannabidiol has not been authorised for consumption in China, a country with some of the strictest drug-enforcement policies in the world.

“It has huge potential,” said Tan Xin, the chairman of Hanma Investment Group, which in 2017 became the first company to receive permission to extract cannabidiol in southern China. The chemical is marketed abroad — in oils, sprays and balms as treatment for insomnia, acne and even diseases like diabetes and multiple sclerosis. (The science, so far, is not conclusive.)

The movement to legalise the mind-altering kind of cannabis has virtually no chance of emerging in China. But the easing of the plant’s stigma in North America has generated global demand for medicinal products — especially for cannabidiol — that companies in China are rushing to fill.

Tian Wei, the director of Hempsoul, a factory at Shanchong, in the Yunnan Province of China. Photo: The New York Times

Hanma’s subsidiary at Shanchong, a village in a remote valley west of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, cultivates more than 1600 acres of hemp, the variety of cannabis that is also used in rope, paper and fabrics. From the crop, it extracts cannabidiol in oil and crystal form at a gleaming factory it opened two years ago, in a restricted zone next to a weapons manufacturer.

“It is very good for people’s health,” said Tian Wei, general manager of the subsidiary, Hempsoul, during an interview at the factory, which was punctuated by test gunfire from the manufacturer next door.

“China may have become aware of this aspect a little bit late, but there will definitely be opportunities in the future,” Tian said.

China has, in fact, cultivated cannabis for thousands of years — for textiles, for hemp seeds and oil and even, according to some, for traditional medicine.

The Divine Farmer’s Classic of Materia Medica, a text from the first or second century, attributed curative powers to cannabis, its seeds and its leaves for a variety of ailments.

“Prolonged consumption frees the spirit light and lightens the body,” it said, according to a translation cited in an article in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology.

The People’s Republic of China, after its founding in 1949, took a hard line on illegal drugs, and cultivating and using marijuana are strictly forbidden to this day, with traffickers facing the death penalty in extreme cases.

After signing the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances in 1985, China went even further. It banned all cultivation of hemp — which had long been grown in Yunnan, a mountainous province that borders Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam and is among China’s poorest.

Farmers produced hemp to make rope and textiles and China had banned it even though it has only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the mind-altering compound found in marijuana.

At a news conference in Beijing last month, Liu Yuejin, deputy director of the National Narcotics Control Commission, said the momentum toward legalisation in other countries meant Chinese authorities would “more strictly strengthen the supervision of industrial cannabis”.

The Hempsoul factory has dozens of closed-circuit cameras that stream videos directly to the provincial public security bureau.

China relented on industrial hemp only in 2010, allowing Yunnan to resume production. Hemp then was used principally for textiles, including the uniforms of the People’s Liberation Army, but soon the products expanded.

The growing industry has brought much-needed investment to Yunnan. The mild, spring-like climate is exemplary for growing cannabis, and a farmer can earn the equivalent of $300 an acre for it, more than for flax or rapeseed, Tian of Hempsoul said.

Cbd-dominant cannabis is is manufactured into oils and sprays, and is legal as a health product in some countries. Photo: AAP

Hempsoul is one of four companies in Yunnan that have received licences to process hemp for cannabidiol, putting more than 36,000 acres under cultivation. Now others are joining the rush.

In February, the province granted a licence to three subsidiaries of Conba Group, a pharmaceutical company based in Zhejiang province. A company based in the city of Qingdao, Huaren Pharmaceutical, said recently it was applying for permission to grow hemp in greenhouses, which already line the landscape around Kunming.

Other regions have taken notice, too. In 2017, Heilongjiang, a province along China’s northeastern border with Russia, joined Yunnan in allowing cannabis cultivation. Jilin, the province next door, said this year that it would also move to do so. The flurry of announcements sent the companies’ stocks soaring on Chinese exchanges, prompting regulators to step in to restrict trading.

While the health benefits of cannabidiol remain uncertain, the US Food and Drug Administration last year approved the first use of it as a drug to treat two rare and severe forms of epilepsy. Other potential uses are being studied.

China permits the sale of hemp seeds and hemp oil and the use of CBD in cosmetics, but it has not yet approved cannabidiol for use in food and medicines. So, for now, the bulk of Hempsoul’s product — roughly two tons a year — is bound for markets overseas. Tian said he believed it was only a matter of time before China approved the compound for ingestion.

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UK: Reefer Madness & Knife Crime…Myth or New Mindset?

The real cause of knife crime? It’s hidden in a fog of cannabis smoke


Does any powerful person in this country ever think? It has been quite astonishing watching the alleged debate about knife crime over the past few days. Not a single thought took place.

There is a very good reason why people generally don’t stab each other. Normal, sane humans recoil from the very idea of plunging a sharp blade into a fellow creature, let alone driving it so deep that it is bound to kill.

The crime has been rare because nobody wanted to commit it. Yet now we have a significant minority who do not recoil. So what has changed?

Here is the problem. We are told that stabbings are at their worst since 1945. This is itself untrue. The year 1945 is chosen because that was when figures on stabbings began to be collected. In reality, they are the worst figures since this became a civilised country under the Victorians, really the worst figures since an unpoliced London was roamed by armed footpads, and highwaymen haunted the country roads.

In a way, they are even worse than then. This is, by comparison with those times, a rich and settled society. But in an important way, we are worse. We have drugs. These drugs do not just intoxicate, as alcohol does. They make their users mentally ill, irrational, uninhibited, careless of the consequences of what they do.

No, not every marijuana smoker goes out and kills. So what? Not every boozer gets into fights, or commits rape, or kills people with drunken driving. Not every cigarette smoker gets cancer or heart disease. But we act against these things because of the significant minority who do cause or experience these tragic outcomes.

And almost all of those who go out and kill someone with a blade will turn out, once the investigation is over, to be a long-term user of marijuana, no longer wholly sane or wholly civilised. Its widespread use is the only significant social change in this country that correlates with the rise in homicidal violence.

It is a problem which a lot of people don’t want to discuss. Who are they? There is the billionaire lobby, of businessmen and politicians, who want to legalise marijuana, who hate every mention of the increasingly obvious connection between use of that drug and severe violence. It could rob them of big profits and big tax receipts.

It could upset the well-funded lobbies for appeasing drug abuse by so-called ‘harm reduction’, such as the Government’s own increasingly shameful ‘Talk to Frank’ website, which matily assumes that those who visit it will take drugs anyway. A fat lot of harm that will reduce. There are the lobbies for more money for the police, who have only one simple-minded, thought-free answer to everything. There are the police themselves, who found that it was difficult to enforce the laws against marijuana possession, and so largely gave up doing so. They obviously don’t want to start again now. Diddums, I say.

And there are people who see the trees, but not the wood. Immediately after the knifing horrors of the weekend, a Government Minister, Victoria Atkins, blurted out the truth, namely: ‘Drugs is the main driver as far as we are concerned of this serious violence’, and then added a flat lie, ‘which is why we are very keen to ensure that the laws in relation to illegal drugs remain as tough as they are’.

They are not tough, Minister, because they are not enforced. They just look tough. Everyone in the world knows they are not tough, except for the Government.

Please, please, please try actually thinking. For complete article go to (March 2019)