In recent years, environmental scientists have helped us recognize that land-use policies had an underappreciated effect on carbon emissions and global warming as a whole. Next to wide-scale incarceration, the hazards of drug addiction, and the violent behavior of drug cartels, the environmental impact of marijuana prohibition has gone largely unexamined and underreported. The extra power and water use that comes with indoor grow operations, as well as product loss that comes from law enforcement seizures, takes a big toll. Studies suggest about 1 percent of the total electricity used in the U.S. goes toward indoor marijuana cultivation.
Moving forward, as the cannabis industry continues to come out from the shadows, the producers, distributors, and consumers will likely have to modify their practices and habits to create a more sustainable industry over the long run. It may also be the case that a greater portion of the tax revenues generated by marijuana sales may need to be pledged toward protecting our natural resources.