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It's not easy being green.
March 18, 2014 8:44 AM   Subscribe

The only thing green about that bud is its chlorophyll. In California, indoor marijuana grows account for about 9 percent of household electricity use. An indoor grow module accommodating four plants sucks as much electricity as 29 refrigerators. For every pound of pot grown 4,600 pounds of CO2 goes into the atmosphere. The energy needed to produce a single joint is enough to produce 18 pints of beer and creates emissions comparable to burning a 100-watt lightbulb for 25 hours. The production and distribution of pot in America emits as much carbon as 3 million cars. And other fun facts.
posted by three blind mice (149 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Legalise it and grow outdoors - let the sun do it's job. Better for everyone, and the environment.
posted by BishopsLoveScifi at 8:47 AM on March 18 [79 favorites]


Yes, the basic answer to this is obvious enough. Of course, getting to a stage where it can be grown in its natural range and then exported to all the markets that want it is another matter.
posted by Drexen at 8:49 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


And other fun facts.

...about prohibition!
posted by CautionToTheWind at 8:50 AM on March 18 [40 favorites]


So how does this compare to, say, trying to grow a crop of tomatoes in your closet?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:51 AM on March 18 [23 favorites]


At first glance, the link to the longer article, The Landscape-Scarring, Energy-Sucking, Wildlife-Killing Reality of Pot Farming: This is your wilderness on drugs, looks more worth discussing than the Mother Jones-on-Buzzfeed crack version.
posted by mediareport at 8:54 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


Meanwhile, here in Washington, the state is apparently slower to approve grow applications from outdoor farmers than for indoor ones -- slow enough to raise concerns that this season will be missed entirely.
posted by Slothrup at 8:55 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


BishopsLoveScifi - I think it's easier to grow in those controlled conditions - uniform light, growth, harvest, product etc vs the variances you'd get from growing outside.

Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish - if tomatoes were selling for, uh, whatever pot goes for per gram, I think a lot more people would be doing that ..
posted by k5.user at 8:55 AM on March 18


Yeah, I was about to link that too. Although again it's talking about things that are byproducts of prohibition rather than inherent to pot farming - wanton use of pesticides that are harmful to non-pest wildlife, terrible fertilizing practices, etc. are all things that we have regulations for, but when you're growing a crop that's banned by federal law, why would you follow federal agriculture rules?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:57 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I doubt very much that these "facts" are current. The main report cited even though it only dates a few years back to 2011 does not even mention the fairly recent proliferation of ultra efficient LED grow lights.
posted by j03 at 8:59 AM on March 18 [9 favorites]


Also it attracts the criminal element!
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:03 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


Growing your own marijuana in Colorado: Legal doesn't mean simple

"Under the law, growing your own marijuana requires keeping your plants in an "enclosed, locked space" that is not open or public. That's pretty broadly-written, but a safe interpretation would mean a basement room or closet that can be locked."
posted by three blind mice at 9:05 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Isn't the indoor grown stuff usually more potent?
posted by jonmc at 9:06 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I realize this article appears in Mother Jones, but I hear a lot of this coming from people against cannabis in my area of California. I think it is very interesting that the cultivation of cannabis has awakened such a strong environmental streak in otherwise conservative people. And funny, they don't complain about the wine industry and its use of pesticides, the rice industry and its massive use of water, or the golf courses and their toxic runoff.

If it were fully legalized, the environmental impact of cannabis would be solved nearly immediately. Certified organic cannabis would sell like hotcakes. The problems come from having to either hide from the law, hide from thieves, or obey arcane MM rules.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:06 AM on March 18 [36 favorites]


The three (legal) plants in my tiny yard aren't getting anything but some water when the months get drier. Otherwise, my (legal) dispensary is appreciated for its requirements of / relationships with growers, indoor and outdoor alike, as there's a strong intention to minimize production costs, resource use, etc. Some of the growers even pop in from time to time to have Q&A days, where they talk about their practices and in-process plans for improving them. The last one of these I saw had a pretty extensive solar heating apparatus under construction.

I suspect that the (legal) aspect is what makes this possible.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:07 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


The longform article linked by mediareport is much better reading than the clickbait "facts" one.

Unfortunately the environmental degradation caused by trespass grows is probably only going to get worse, because the demand for legalization on the possession side hasn't been matched (at least in CA and in most other states) with legalization on the production side. So you have a black-market supply chain feeding what ends up as a decriminalized good. That's nice if you're an end user, but it still leaves all the downsides of the black market along the chain, including at the end, a bunch of woodchucks and hired laborers shitting and spraying poison all over National Forest land to grow the stuff.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:08 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


If it were fully legalized, the environmental impact of cannabis would be solved nearly immediately. Certified organic cannabis would sell like hotcakes. The problems come from having to either hide from the law, hide from thieves, or obey arcane MM rules.

Organic marijuana would sell like hotcakes, but so would non-organic marijuana. I'm pro-legalization, but let's not pretend like there would be environmental impact from legal marijuana growing.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:13 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


The lights used for indoor grow ops are pretty big energy users in themselves. But I have to question some of these factoids---a 4-plant operation uses as much as however many refrigerators? Possibly, I guess, but a grow op with only 4 plants is probably not very efficient. I suspect it would be much easier to optimize energy efficiency and plants-per-light in a warehouse or industrial-sized greenhouse or something. I don't think many grow ops are built in consultation with engineers.

Also "a guy I know" grew about 6 plants on a rooftop in planters with just regular old sunlight and it was fine. It's not going to be as strong but someone who knows what they're doing can make something nice outdoors. Some people don't even like the fancy super-controlled-conditions indoor grown stuff; it can be awfully strong.
posted by Hoopo at 9:14 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Setting up marijuana grower cooperatives in Afghanistan in 2001 should have been a NATO priority to prevent Taliban resurgence.
posted by surplus at 9:15 AM on March 18 [6 favorites]


Organic marijuana would sell like hotcakes, but so would non-organic marijuana. I'm pro-legalization, but let's not pretend like there would be environmental impact from legal marijuana growing.

It would most likely replace other less profitable crops, some of them possibly more environmentally degrading.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:17 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Organic marijuana would sell like hotcakes, but so would non-organic marijuana.

I can't see any reason, at first blush, to imagine that the organic/non-organic breakdown wouldn't resemble that in the fresh produce market. That is, I don't see why "people who smoke weed" are inherently more likely to be people who place a high value on low-environmental-impact production. Given where most of their current supply is coming from, in fact, there seems to be a strong implication that people who currently smoke weed self-select as relatively unconcerned about low-environmental-impact production.
posted by yoink at 9:18 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


I wonder if, as a "new" crop without much in the way of existing agricultural regulations, permits for legal pot farming could more easily require a higher standard of environmental responsibility than other crops. Stringent environmental regulations right from the start, before it becomes another lobbying target for big agribusiness.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:23 AM on March 18


Given where most of their current supply is coming from, in fact, there seems to be a strong implication that people who currently smoke weed self-select as relatively unconcerned about low-environmental-impact production.

If the only place you can get liquor is a from Al Capone's boys selling watered-down stolen bourbon, you go get liquor from those assholes because otherwise no liquor. When basically anyone can make it, you can start being more judicious as far as your sources.

Cannabis users are a market like any other: there's people who don't give a shit and just want the product, and on the other hand people who want to know know its provenance, and as long as they put up the money to be catered to in such a way, they will be catered to, I guarantee.
posted by griphus at 9:23 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


And to say nothing of the dogs! won't someone think of the poor dogs?
posted by Naberius at 9:24 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


It's not going to be as strong but someone who knows what they're doing can make something nice outdoors.

This is backwards. The best possible light source is still direct sunlight. Of course you are then limited by growing season, but indoor lighting is not the reason marijuana has generally improved in quality. That has more to do with efforts in creating specific hybrids and growing for yield.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:28 AM on March 18 [6 favorites]


I'm highly skeptical of these 'facts' presented in a series of poorly done infographics.
posted by Catblack at 9:29 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


The longform article linked by mediareport is much better reading than the clickbait "facts" one.

Accusing Mother Jones of clickbaiting is pretty amusing.
posted by Etrigan at 9:34 AM on March 18


The main report cited even though it only dates a few years back to 2011 does not even mention the fairly recent proliferation of ultra efficient LED grow lights.

As I understand it, previously they'd use stolen streetlights for the proper light spectrum (or pricey custom halogen jobbies), which suck down a fuckton of energy. Optimized-spectrum LED grow lights use MUCH less energy, with even pro-grade equipment designed for industrial scale hydroponics using about as much as typical desktop PC, and "home enthusiast" equipment using even less, typically around 12w. (My 9w LED security lights are way brighter than my old halogen bulbs, and illuminate the backyard all the way to the treeline, so I can believe it.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:35 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


"Organic marijuana would sell like hotcakes." And with wider pot legalization, so would hotcakes.
posted by TDavis at 9:36 AM on March 18 [31 favorites]


That the federal government is prosecuting Mendocino county for attempting to regulate the crop tells me all I need to know about the source of the problem.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:37 AM on March 18 [7 favorites]


there seems to be a strong implication that people who currently smoke weed self-select as relatively unconcerned about low-environmental-impact production.

Anecdotally I don't think people think much about where their pot comes from or it's environmental impact, and kind of consider it this "natural", "good", "harmless" thing
posted by Hoopo at 9:39 AM on March 18


"Anecdotally I don't think people think much about where their pot comes from or it's environmental impact, and kind of consider it this "natural", "good", "harmless" thing"
Seriously, its pretty amazing, and I guess not so unpredictable, how just reflexively defensive this thread instantly became.

Its like anything that might suggest pot use as being the least bit socially irresponsible can only possibly be exclusively the fault of the man and anything that might point how how much the stark indifference of consumers contributes to brutal systems of oppression, or in this case global warming, must also just come from the man somehow. It flabbergasts me how many of the same people who buy free trade coffee, with its dubious benefit to the developing world and price insensitive margins that largely go straight into the pockets of retailers, handwave away how these days slightly more than half of the pot in the United States is grown and trafficked by Mexican cartels. Pot provides the backbone of funding for cartels with its high profit margin and low overhead, fueling the rapid decent of northern Mexico into a fucking horror show and no one but the tiny minority of pot users who source their habit from someone they know fucking cares.

That this shit contributes to global warming is just icing on the goatse cake.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:42 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


The 4 plant setup that I've had the most contact with uses about as much power as a desktop computer, so if that's 29 refrigerators maybe I should spend less time online.
posted by smackwich at 9:46 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


I think it's mainly conservatives talking about the environmental impact of growing cannabis is pretty much the textbook definition of "concern troll."
posted by entropicamericana at 9:47 AM on March 18 [19 favorites]


How is this any worse than growing tomatoes in sand?
posted by odinsdream at 9:47 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Accusing Mother Jones of clickbaiting is pretty amusing.

Color me unamused. The longer article is from Mother Jones as well, and it's much better. For whatever reason, they took a really solid piece of longform journalism and then felt the need to produce a Buzzfeed/Upworthy-style infographic listicle out of it. Presumably they think it's more "viral" or "sharable" or something. Whatever the business reason for it, it's clickbait, and the meat of the story is in the Josh Harkinson feature piece.

And as others have pointed out, the concern over energy usage by small indoor grows is probably misplaced and out of date, while the damage done by large-scale grow ops outdoors, especially on public land, is a serious concern that is probably going to get worse as demand for cannabis increases due to possession decriminalization without a matching increase in legal productive capacity.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:48 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Those year round cucumbers and tomatoes are all free, right?
posted by clvrmnky at 9:50 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Well, if you just want to rehash "it's prohibition's fault" / "it's the users' fault", I think we just had that thread.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:51 AM on March 18


"Organic marijuana would sell like hotcakes." And with wider pot legalization, so would hotcakes.

And so we begin to see that the whole legalization movement is just a front for the shadowy machinations of Big Hotcake.
posted by Copronymus at 9:53 AM on March 18 [21 favorites]


Interesting. I'm curious how the impact compares to, say, tobacco farms or greenhouse-grown produce and whether legalization would solve these problems. My instinct says that it would at least help, but I feel like there's some context missing here that'd help inform things.
posted by Aleyn at 9:54 AM on March 18


I'm highly skeptical of these 'facts' presented in a series of poorly done infographics.

Well, the sources are cited at the bottom of the graphic. Do you have any cause for your suspicion, beyond it not agreeing with your worldview and displeasing your aesthetics regarding infographics?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:54 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


And so we begin to see that the whole legalization movement is just a front for the shadowy machinations of Big Hotcake.

Big Hotcake is just a front for Big Maple Syrup.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:58 AM on March 18 [6 favorites]


Meanwhile, here in Washington, the state is apparently slower to approve grow applications from outdoor farmers than for indoor ones -- slow enough to raise concerns that this season will be missed entirely.

It's weird. We had a vote about this and it seems more and more like the state is dragging its feet in all aspects of implementing law, perhaps deliberately.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:59 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Are you saying we should do magic mushrooms instead?   ✓

Actually that's unrealistic because : You wouldn't want psilocybin more than a couple times per month. In particular, hallucinogens like psilocybin cannot actually improve your mood like pot, alcohol, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:00 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Not to mention the environmental cost of increased pizza delivery, industrial Oreo production, and more people watching tv until 3am
posted by Fists O'Fury at 10:00 AM on March 18


...anything that might point how how much the stark indifference of consumers contributes to brutal systems of oppression, or in this case global warming, must also just come from the man somehow.

I'm not sure how making a crop illegal to cultivate and the fruits to sell isn't the man's fault in its entirety. The man is why people find themselves turning a blind eye to that sort of thing. And you can certainly blame them for the repercussions of the decisions they make, but to take out of the equation the government dudes in the suits who will slap cuffs on you and throw your ass in jail if they catch you cultivating where their boss said you can't is placing the blame for bad policy entirely on the laps of the people who didn't cause the problem they now have to go through dubious efforts to fix.

Whole lotta strawmen in this thread getting struck down by the Sword of Righteousness and I suspect that's doing little more than making a boring spectacle and dulling the sword.
posted by griphus at 10:04 AM on March 18 [9 favorites]


Just legalize import (with no damned tariffs) and you'll have tons and tons of it coming in cheap from energy-efficient plantations in Central and South America. Energy-efficient freighters packed to the top with energy-efficient dope would race to the shores of energy-wasting America.
posted by pracowity at 10:04 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Pot provides the backbone of funding for cartels with its high profit margin and low overhead, fueling the rapid decent of northern Mexico into a fucking horror show and no one but the tiny minority of pot users who source their habit from someone they know fucking cares.

Perhaps I can ease your self-righteous indignation: if you drive a car, or if you have air conditioning, I believe you have a few million more bodies in your pile from the oil wars of the last half century, especially once you begin to consider the costs of the global warming "icing" which you seem to appreciate. Now, that does assume you're an American, as our 3-4% of the population of earth consumes about 25% of its resources. So, by every measure, your mere existence as an American makes you a worse individual than a person who may choose to smoke pot.

And, in answer to your baseless accusation, look no further than the Bush Administration for a primary ingredient in the narco wars of Mexico. The Mexican government was about to see if decriminalization would reduce the harm that drugs do to their society, but the US government decided to stand by our principles of self-rule and liberty and tell them that they couldn't do that because we said so.

tl:dr; Open eyes. Remove log. Carry on.
posted by tripping daisy at 10:06 AM on March 18 [23 favorites]


4-plant indoor growers might not be as likely to scrap the older types of lights to LEDs - the original ones cost plenty and new lights might not be in the budget.
posted by merelyglib at 10:06 AM on March 18


Perhaps I can ease your self-righteous indignation: if you drive a car, or if you have air conditioning, I believe you have a few million more bodies in your pile from the oil wars of the last half century, especially once you begin to consider the costs of the global warming "icing" which you seem to appreciate. Now, that does assume you're an American, as our 3-4% of the population of earth consumes about 25% of its resources.

What about those of us who don't drive and do everything possible to have as small a footprint as possible? May we be critical, or does the fact that other stuff pollutes and has a negative social impact mean that we cannot discuss the fact that pot does the same, and discuss ways to minimize that impact?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:10 AM on March 18


Those ultra-high efficiency LED grow lights everybody seems to think are so great don't actually produce intense enough light, to be useful for growing anything other than sprouts, or keeping your clones alive.
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 10:10 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


"Perhaps I can ease your self-righteous indignation: if you drive a car, or if you have air conditioning, I believe you have a few million more bodies in your pile from the oil wars of the last half century, especially once you begin to consider the costs of the global warming "icing" which you seem to appreciate. Now, that does assume you're an American, as our 3-4% of the population of earth consumes about 25% of its resources. So, by every measure, your mere existence as an American makes you a worse individual than a person who may choose to smoke pot."
Not that it matters to my point at all, but I have neither a car nor air conditioning, and do not live in America. This is still a pretty extraordinary level of cognitive dissonance and defensive bullshit. People paying the Mexican cartels fuel Mexican cartels.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:11 AM on March 18


Yeah and if the man would legalize marijuana mexican cartels would stop profiting from selling marijuana.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:14 AM on March 18


Maybe we can have the Mexican Cartel Atrocity fight in the Mexican Cartel Atrocity FPP, and have the conversation about the environmental impact of domestic growing in this one.
posted by griphus at 10:15 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


The 4 plant setup that I've had the most contact with uses about as much power as a desktop computer, so if that's 29 refrigerators maybe I should spend less time online.

I expect the surprising part here is how little electricity new refrigerators use.

Playing around with efficiency and cost calculators, it looks like a new fridge's average draw over a month is just under 60 watts (41kWh monthly, 730 hours/month). 29 refrigerators by that standard is about 1750 watts, or about the same as some hair dryers.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:15 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


Yes, growing marijuana indoors is not green…but whose fault is that? The growers, the consumers, or the government?

If marijuana were legal, then hemp could be legal too…and THAT is where the real gains are to be made in terms of the "greenness" of marijuana cultivation.
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 10:20 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


One of the most obnoxious tactics of the prohibitionists is blaming on drugs the problems that are caused by prohibition.

I'm heartened to see the strong pushback in this thread, right from the beginning.

Pot growing has a disproportionate environmental impact, right now, largely because it is illegal. As everyone has said, that means:
-- economies of scale are inaccessible because big operations are too risky;
-- agricultural regulations don't apply;
-- information-sharing on efficient best practices is suppressed; and
-- consumers can't lobby for greener methods, because production is kept opaque to protect it from law enforcement.

And yet the association between environmental harm and pot is something the forces of prohibition would like us to absorb uncritically, without thinking that it is exactly prohibition that causes the problem. (The longform story is much better than the "28 FACTS" piece on this angle. One wonders why the presentation of the shorter piece is so skewed towards DOJ and ONDCP messaging.)

And here I have to object to blasdelb's comment:

Its like anything that might suggest pot use as being the least bit socially irresponsible can only possibly be exclusively the fault of the man. . . . [They] handwave away how these days slightly more than half of the pot in the United States is grown and trafficked by Mexican cartels. Pot provides the backbone of funding for cartels with its high profit margin and low overhead, fueling the rapid decent of northern Mexico into a fucking horror show and no one but the tiny minority of pot users who source their habit from someone they know fucking cares.

Ironically, the cartels' marijuana business is a perfect example of a problem caused directly by "the man" -- that is to say, caused by prohibitionist US interests. Marijuana is a good business for the cartels because it is a large illegal market. The cartels are economically specialized in illegal business, and so the marijuana trade has been a natural synergy for them. But the synergy wouldn't exist if marijuana was legal. ADM can market crops much cheaper than the cartels, because it doesn't have to account for the risk of interdiction, doesn't have to pay for a network of enforcers and assassins, doesn't have to smuggle its product, can advertise, can sell in stores without its customers risking arrest, etc. That's why the cartels sell millions of pounds of marijuana instead of millions of pounds of tomatoes.

Mexico hasn't legalized marijuana, in part because of pressure from the North. (Pressuring other countries to fight in our war on drugs has become one of the main planks of US foreign policy strategy, for some reason.) But Mexican politicians are increasingly proposing it, and the reason they give is exactly that prohibition is a boon to the cartels. Here is an interview with former President Vicente Fox on the subject. I dunno, maybe the ex-president of Mexico is some kind of irresponsible pothead ranting in his dorm room about "the man."

Now it's true that marijuana smokers do participate in a small way in the social evils of the drug trade, when they buy marijuana that comes via organized-crime channels. But because of decades of US policy they don't have much of a choice. They can't find out where their pot comes from, because the legal risks associated with this kind of transparency are too great. They can't choose to buy from legal channels.

It is patent moralistic bullshit to try to blame small users for the consequences of a policy that is actively pursued by people with actual power. It is disgusting to blame pot smokers as part of a campaign to excuse the politicians, bureaucrats, and policemen. The people who go to work every day, and every day decide to make and enforce policy that kills thousands and puts millions in jail. Let's take the focus off the Presidents, prosecutors, propagandists, you say. Let's put the blame squarely where it belongs, on the dude who smokes a joint after work some days.
posted by grobstein at 10:21 AM on March 18 [66 favorites]


Alcohol and tobacco are definitely much better overall for the environment, purely on the strength of the massive amount of polluters they eliminate from it.
posted by ODiV at 10:30 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


So we've been told, pot is the number one cash crop of the southern states, and it ain't bein' grown in greenhouses folks!*

*This comment brought to you by our sponsor: the Association of Alabama Sewer Skunk and Hashish Agricultural Technologists
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:31 AM on March 18


Four plants requires a 400W to 600W sodium bulb. These are not particulary expensive nor complicated. High output fluorescents are also an option. AFAIK, LEDs are still very pricey.

Compared to my hot tub, the baseboard radiators in most apartments, or the night-blinding quantity of streetlights in my town, 400W is not much.

I am surprised, even shocked, at how efficient fridges are these days. Wow. My bathroom lights consume more energy! Unbelievable!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:31 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


if you think this is bad, you should see how much we waste water and ruin the earth by growing fruits and vegetables!
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:36 AM on March 18 [9 favorites]


I don't think this discussion is happening exclusively because people want to prohibit the doobewanna. I think it is happening increasingly because the stuff looks likely to be legalized, and if it is to be legalized, it is worth considering what impact it has and how much we can mitigate that impact, which is a discussion that is useful with any product.

Turning this into a fight between prohibitionists and see-no-evil pot enthusiasts does that discussion a disservice. Mother Jones' stance has been consistently environmentalist in its concern, and that's not Mother Jones breaking with its usual editorial policy to be unusually blinkered about marijuana. It is consistent with the publication's approach to writing about the environment.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:36 AM on March 18


Another fun fact…that 9% of California's residential electricity consumption? It gets billed at 3-4 times the rate, that the utilities charge for regular baseline consumption…currently about $.35/Kwh.
Historically, it has been as high as $.44/Kwh.

PG&E is one of the largest profiteers, from the marijuana industry.
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 10:39 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


I'd love to have an honest conversation about the detrimental effects of agriculture on the environment. I really don't see the point of singling out marijuana in this regard.

Let's get clever and throw in some carbon offsets from also being able to grow hemp!
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:40 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


My 9w LED security lights are way brighter than my old halogen bulbs, and illuminate the backyard all the way to the treeline, so I can believe it.

Entirely wrong spectrum for plant growth. Great for helping human eyes see, useless for photosynthesis.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:40 AM on March 18


Compared to my hot tub, the baseboard radiators in most apartments, or the night-blinding quantity of streetlights in my town, 400W is not much.

I have it on good authority from a, uh...guy I know that the metal halide lights used in a lot of indoor grow rooms and the streetlights are the same lights, and may even have been repurposed from their original streetlight use.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 10:40 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I think it is happening increasingly because the stuff looks likely to be legalized, and if it is to be legalized, it is worth considering what impact it has and how much we can mitigate that impact, which is a discussion that is useful with any product.

Then it's important to separate out the factors that are inherent to marijuana cultivation specifically, those that are general concerns about large-scale agriculture, and those that are specific to illegal (and thus unregulated) agriculture but not to marijuana in any more inherent way.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:41 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Now it's true that marijuana smokers do participate in a small way in the social evils of the drug trade, when they buy marijuana that comes via organized-crime channels. But because of decades of US policy they don't have much of a choice.

The vast, vast majority of marijuana users have the entirely easy option of simply choosing not to consume. Yeah, sure, if you're a cancer patient who needs it to control your nausea, more power to your elbow, but such people are a tiny fraction of the market for what is largely an entirely discretionary purchase. You might just as well say "well, sure, I'd like to buy my ivory from sustainably farmed elephants, but until somebody gets that off the ground what choice do I have but to buy black market ivory from poachers?"
posted by yoink at 10:46 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


That's true of pretty much all consumer goods though right? Watching Ender's Game, wearing diamonds, drinking Coke, browsing on my iPhone...
posted by ODiV at 10:48 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


If legalized, pot growing will have much the same environmental impact as hot house tomatoes. Indeed, I'll claim they'll have the exact same impact.

Yes, Ham, a few teenaged twits steal ground-level signage lighting. MH bulbs, btw, provide good light for veggie growth, but lousy light for flowering. But teens are generally stupid, and thieving ones even more so, so it's not surprising they'd steal the wrong type of light. (Nor is it surprising that one occasionally reads about the little chavs electrocuting themselves while doing so.)
posted by five fresh fish at 10:50 AM on March 18


Not that it matters to my point at all, but I have neither a car nor air conditioning, and do not live in America. This is still a pretty extraordinary level of cognitive dissonance and defensive bullshit. People paying the Mexican cartels fuel Mexican cartels.

The corruption of the Mexican state and America's role in influencing Mexican political affairs have something to do with it:
I think the US sent a signal that could be construed as follows:

"To the [Juárez] and Sinaloa cartels: Thank you for providing our market with drugs over the years. We are now concerned about your perpetration of violence, and would like to see you stop that. In this regard, please know that Sinaloa is bigger and better than [the Juárez cartel]. Also note that [Ciudad Juárez] is very important to us, as is the whole border. In this light, please talk amongst yourselves and lets all get back to business. Again, we recognize that Sinaloa is bigger and better, so either [the Juárez cartel] gets in line or we will mess you up."

In sum, I have a gut feeling that the US agencies tried to send a signal telling the cartels to negotiate themselves. They unilaterally declared a winner, and this is unprecedented, and deserves analysis.

Taking a look at the products that enter the United States, picking out illicit drugs as being surrounded by mafia money is self-evident. It's not interesting or unexpected, nor does it continue to be a significant source of cartel power. Many cartels make most of their money on schemes that do not include drug smuggling. And if you really want to get in to it, I wonder if the 5 billion in arms sales since 1996 to Mexico represent any conflict of interest for American business elements? And what about the significant amount of reports which conclude that most of the arms destroying Mexico are bought legally in the United States? Should gun owners lose sleep knowing that their industry lobbyists fight regulations, and this is one of the consequences?

Interesting questions, but I think you were trying to relate something about the parties responsible for the power of Mexican cartels. Please continue.
posted by tripping daisy at 10:50 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


And that's not to say that making sure your pot is ethically sourced is a worthless endeavor or that I think there's "better" use of your time/effort. I'm not going to fault you for that, just like I'm not going to fault vegans or people who don't buy music from the RIAA.
posted by ODiV at 10:50 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I am surprised, even shocked, at how efficient fridges are these days. Wow. My bathroom lights consume more energy!

Your bathroom lights would use more electricity if you left them on 24/7. A new fridge uses way more than 60 watts (googling suggests 400-800W) when the compressor is running, but they're insulated really well so the compressor doesn't have to run very often.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:50 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the clarification, ROU.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:54 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I agree that legalization is the answer. However if you read the original full MJ article like I did, there's a lot of stuff in there about the illegal outdoor grows in California on public land that will make you want to throw up. Some of the people doing that are way worse than say the Keystone XL pipeline builders and have far less concern for the environment. Poisoning wildlife, carry guns around, throwing huge bags of trash out in the woods. I don't want to support that.

Heck I just got mad at the littering part. I'm in my 40s and I am pretty sure I've never littered before, even when I was a teenage metalhead mad at authority. I just don't see what the point is.

In my dream world the growers are responsible happy local business owners and I can get transparency about the sourcing and business practices. Sadly the people you're supporting right now are much more likely to be money-hungry, thoughtless assholes willing to use violence or any other means to get their little piece of the pie. No thanks.
posted by freecellwizard at 10:55 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


That's true of pretty much all consumer goods though right? Watching Ender's Game, wearing diamonds, drinking Coke, browsing on my iPhone...

Indeed, but in most other cases where an industry is engaged in really egregiously destructive and exploitative practices Mefites don't just shrug their shoulders and say "well, it would be nice if it were done otherwise, but what choice do I have?"
posted by yoink at 10:55 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I don't smoke pot. I just recognize that telling people in general not to smoke it is not a winning strategy, even when it's backed up by jail time.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:10 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


I really don't see the point of singling out marijuana in this regard.

Marijuana is grown in conditions unlike other crops, because it's illegal. Thus it has an outsize environmental impact. You don't have nutbags camping out in National Forests with rat poison and gallons of pesticide, shooting at birdwatchers, in order to grow tomatoes.

That's because you can't grow marijuana (at least in CA and most states) openly, so you have to hide it. Hence doing it in the forest rather than on a farm, on land zoned for agricultural use, etc. And also because it's illegal there's a huge risk premium, which pays for and to a certain extent justifies (in the eyes of the growers) carrying guns and shooting at passers-by.

There are environmental consequences to all forms of agriculture but black-market agriculture -- like basically everything black-market -- is worse than the same type of activity when it takes place inside a regulatory framework and is open for inspection.

There would be no need to grow cannabis in National Forests if you could grow it on farms. In fact, it probably wouldn't be grown in Humboldt and other parts of northern CA at all, except as a boutique product. (Or, here on the East Coast, in the Cherokee NF and the Great Smoky Mountains and other places.) There are a shitload of idled tobacco farms in Virginia and the Carolinas which could probably grow enough weed to keep the whole country properly stoned, without clearing a single tree or dumping any pesticide onto any non-agricultural land; the only reason they're not currently filled with rows of cannabis plants, with Monsanto lot number signs and harvested by giant JD combines and sold to RJR Nabisco and traded on the Chicago futures market -- basically, treated like every other agricultural product -- is because it's illegal.

Unfortunately, while there is a growing consensus and movement toward decriminalization of possession, that hasn't been matched (except in CO and WA, although there are apparently issues in the latter) with much thought to the supply chain that creates and distributes cannabis to the consumer who is now allowed (de facto, anyway) to possess it, in many places. So the ugliness and general brutality of the black market remains, just somewhat more insulated from the end consumer.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:14 AM on March 18 [11 favorites]


Blasdelb: " Pot provides the backbone of funding for cartels with its high profit margin and low overhead, fueling the rapid decent of northern Mexico into a fucking horror show and no one but the tiny minority of pot users who source their habit from someone they know fucking cares. "

... which will only be true until it's fully legalized.

When was the last time you drank gin made in a bathtub by the Mafia?
posted by IAmBroom at 11:20 AM on March 18 [5 favorites]


Indeed, but in most other cases where an industry is engaged in really egregiously destructive and exploitative practices Mefites don't just shrug their shoulders and say "well, it would be nice if it were done otherwise, but what choice do I have?"

But nobody is shrugging their shoulders; EVERYONE is saying that none of this will change unless marijuana is legalized and regulated.
I honestly don't understand how this would change WITHOUT legalization. People who illegally grow fields of weed in protected forestland don't care about violating EPA regulations, because they're already breaking the law.
posted by 235w103 at 11:24 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


jeffburdges: "Are you saying we should do magic mushrooms instead?   ✓

Actually that's unrealistic because : You wouldn't want psilocybin more than a couple times per month. In particular, hallucinogens like psilocybin cannot actually improve your mood like pot, alcohol, etc.
"

Not to turn it into a derail, but... well... there's plenty of research to the contrary. Or do you mean, in particular DURING the trip? That can, of course be hit or miss (I've hard some dark trips on shrooms, indeed). But there is most certainly an antidepressant effect. On a personal level, in fact I've been feeling a strong need to squeegee my third eye for some time now... *ahem*
posted by symbioid at 11:32 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


Question from a non-user...are hydroponic supply stores primarily selling to marijuana growers? In other words, is it like a head shop that sells bongs that can be technically used for tobacco but are really for pot? And like, is it 99% marijuana or 60% marijuana and 40% tomatoes or whatever? I'm referring to the small retail shops I see in big cities (that is, not in rural farm areas).
posted by mullacc at 11:33 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


When was the last time you drank gin made in a bathtub by the Mafia?

how loosely are we defining "mafia"?
posted by Greg Nog at 11:37 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


ROU_Xenophobe: "Your bathroom lights would use more electricity if you left them on 24/7. A new fridge uses way more than 60 watts (googling suggests 400-800W) when the compressor is running, but they're insulated really well so the compressor doesn't have to run very often."

True, but the only real importance of instantaneous power usage is for determining circuit breaker size.

Gross energy consumption is determined by average usage.

Refrigerator avg power goes up by day in the warm months, generally (or if not, it's because an air conditioner is stabilizing the temps, so it's moot), which adds to the power plant load imbalances (you have to design a plant to handle peak hourly usage, not average daily usage). However, even then it's not the 400-800W level - it's still averaged out over a period of 1+ hours.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:38 AM on March 18


The biggest oversight I see in this whole discussion is the sort of implicit conceit that pot growing isn't *already* a huge crop/industry. Legalization would allow for more environmentally friendly outdoor grows, yes, but will also allow for greater "sunlight" if you will, in all other aspects of the process, from pesticides to packaging to labor.
posted by stenseng at 11:47 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


But nobody is shrugging their shoulders; EVERYONE is saying that none of this will change unless marijuana is legalized and regulated.

But nobody much seems to be saying "and until such time as the legal framework is changed, the ethical thing would be to cease consumption."
posted by yoink at 11:48 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


When was the last time you drank gin made in a bathtub by the Mafia?

If this is at all possible, I will do it in a heartbeat.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:56 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


And like, is it 99% marijuana or 60% marijuana and 40% tomatoes or whatever?

I'm pretty sure 99% would be a woeful underestimate.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:58 AM on March 18


But nobody much seems to be saying "and until such time as the legal framework is changed, the ethical thing would be to cease consumption."

Well, I don't smoke, and people have a wildly varying need to feel ethically sound about their purchases, and to be honest it pretty much doesn't matter if one or two or a thousand people stop smoking weed because of this. The weed market is so large that this is one of those cases where pushing people to make more ethical changes in their own life does almost nothing. Unless extremely large numbers of marijuana users were to stop smoking - and keep in mind that this is something that the government, via the force of law, has had very little luck making happen - the weed black market is not going anywhere.
Unless, of course, weed is legalized.
I honestly do not care who is ethically responsible for people destroying our natural forests other than the people actually doing the destroying. I don't care if it's my fault or Jerry Garcia's fault or Cheech's fault. I just want it to stop, and literally the only way for that to happen is for marijuana production to be legalized and regulated.
posted by 235w103 at 12:06 PM on March 18 [8 favorites]


29 refrigerators by that standard is about 1750 watts, or about the same as some hair dryers.

So my takeaway here is that I should replace my old refrigerators and may be able to afford to do so based on 1 year's electricity usage alone.
posted by mwhybark at 12:12 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


There would be no need to grow cannabis in National Forests if you could grow it on farms.


And there would be no need to grow it on farms, if you could grow it in your backyard...
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 12:20 PM on March 18


If you must consume as an American or Canadian, domestic product may come with a high environmental price, but certainly not as high an ethical price as the imports.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:21 PM on March 18


"Sources: Jon Gettman (2006), US Forest Service (California outdoor grow stats include small portions of Oregon and Nevada), Office of National Drug Control Policy, SF Public Utilities Commission, Evan Mills (2012)."

I wouldn't put a whole lot of stock in these numbers. From what I understand, weed--being a weed and all--will grow just fine outside almost anywhere in the US with minimal inputs.
posted by Camofrog at 12:22 PM on March 18


Blasdelb >

Its like anything that might suggest pot use as being the least bit socially irresponsible can only possibly be exclusively the fault of the man and anything that might point how how much the stark indifference of consumers contributes to brutal systems of oppression, or in this case global warming, must also just come from the man somehow.

It's not the stark indifference of consumers that causes anything here, though. Caring about systems of oppression doesn't actually do anything, because caring about stuff (or being strident and self-righteous about it) doesn't create environmental protections in developing nations, nor does it give workers in those nations wage guarantees, or occupational health and safety oversight, or affordable, high-quality education for their children, or proper health care, and the list goes on. I find it somewhat incomprehensible, to be honest, to imply that what first-worlders think and feel about our own choices is more important than whether or not their lives are actually improved or changed by anything we do or abstain from on sub-systemic levels.

It flabbergasts me how many of the same people who buy free trade coffee, with its dubious benefit to the developing world and price insensitive margins that largely go straight into the pockets of retailers, handwave away how these days slightly more than half of the pot in the United States is grown and trafficked by Mexican cartels. Pot provides the backbone of funding for cartels with its high profit margin and low overhead, fueling the rapid decent of northern Mexico into a fucking horror show and no one but the tiny minority of pot users who source their habit from someone they know fucking cares.

So if free trade is really just a clever marketing strategy that sells a vague sense of contributing to social justice but doesn't actually change anyone's life for the better, what's the alternative for marijuana, exactly? We can easily see, precisely from the example given, that the consumerist version of social justice doesn't even work, so I'm not sure what the point is here.

yoink >

But nobody is shrugging their shoulders; EVERYONE is saying that none of this will change unless marijuana is legalized and regulated.

But nobody much seems to be saying "and until such time as the legal framework is changed, the ethical thing would be to cease consumption."


But that's equally true about almost everything consumers spend money on; electronics, textiles, inexpensive plastics, furniture, food itself, etc. There's literally no way to do an ethical thing with money, when that's defined as not participating in any economic exchanges that entailed oppression at some point in the production process. That's modern global capitalism for you. It's bigger than all of us.
posted by clockzero at 12:25 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


five fresh fish: "But teens are generally stupid, and thieving ones even more so, so it's not surprising they'd steal the wrong type of light."

filthy light thief is conspicuously absent from this thread, now that you mention it.
posted by Corinth at 12:26 PM on March 18 [7 favorites]


But nobody much seems to be saying "and until such time as the legal framework is changed, the ethical thing would be to cease consumption."

Well that's because MINE comes from good, old fashioned, wholesome Canadian biker gangs
posted by Hoopo at 12:39 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


Yes, I meant during the trip, symbioid, mushrooms always make me anxious briefly. I vehemently support legalizing the classical hallucinogens, like psilocybin, mescaline, and LSD, but..

All these psychological treatments involve pairing hallucinogens with a set and setting created by a psychologist. A priori, you might find opposite effects if you pair hallucinogens with jerks fighting one another at their local dive bar. Would doing housework on mushrooms contribute to OCD behavior? etc.

I'd legalize selling hallucinogens provided either the seller or buyer demonstrates "evidence for control over set and setting". A psychologist could interview a prospective buyer and write a "well I cannot find any reason she should not do hallucinogens" note. Anyone rejected could seek treatment for whatever psychological condition that results in their rejection. Or try hallucinogens in "gallery" venues that maintain a healthy positive environment, minimal history of violence, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:39 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


And to say nothing of the dogs! won't someone think of the poor dogs?

And the bears.
posted by homunculus at 12:41 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


k5.user: "BishopsLoveScifi - I think it's easier to grow in those controlled conditions - uniform light, growth, harvest, product etc vs the variances you'd get from growing outside."

Yet, as far as I'm aware, essentially no mass market agricultural product gets grown this way in California. It's crazy to think that at a minimum pot wouldn't be grown, at least partially, in greenhouses there by greatly reducing the electrical inputs to it's production. The proliferation of outdoor grow-ops on national un-RICO-able land is testament to this.

Ham Snadwich: "I have it on good authority from a, uh...guy I know that the metal halide lights used in a lot of indoor grow rooms and the streetlights are the same lights, and may even have been repurposed from their original streetlight use."

All metal halide lights are basically the same; the package they come in mostly an esthetic and focusing choice.
posted by Mitheral at 1:08 PM on March 18


I've met one or two older folks who claimed to have consumed bathtub gin (probably with mob origins). They said it was pretty awful. Although, a buddy of mine brought me some moonshine corn liquor from downsouth and it was OK.
posted by jonmc at 2:17 PM on March 18


Playing around with efficiency and cost calculators, it looks like a new fridge's average draw over a month is just under 60 watts (41kWh monthly, 730 hours/month).

And if you're running a 400 W MH fixture 24/7 (a high energy figure running at unrealistic rates) you would be using (400WX24h/dayX31days monthly)/1000w/kW = 297.6 call it 300 kWh monthly right? I mean it's been a while since physics. and 300/41 =7.3, suggesting the "29 refrigerators" number is off by roughly a factor of 400% assuming a best case for the refrigerator and a worst case for the grow light? Can someone fix my math or can I just go ahead and assume that Mother Jones pulled the rest of their numbers right out of their butt as well?
posted by nanojath at 2:46 PM on March 18


Another BS article attacking the wrong target with distorted non facts. You can grow four plants with as 150w and yield two ounces per eight weeks. Or you could throw 1000w or more and go for the massive weights. Our grow outside for the most yield, but yes diminished potency from the elements attacking the trichomes. The number of refrigerators thing is absurd and represents some outlier bullshit, much like plants get weighed root balls, dirt, and all whenever the Keystone kops manage to bust a "million dollar" grow
posted by lordaych at 2:57 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


"Now it's true that marijuana smokers do participate in a small way in the social evils of the drug trade, when they buy marijuana that comes via organized-crime channels. But because of decades of US policy they don't have much of a choice. They can't find out where their pot comes from, because the legal risks associated with this kind of transparency are too great. They can't choose to buy from legal channels."
Pot smokers can always, alternatively, not fucking smoke weed when stuff of known provenance is not available. Yes US drug policy is fucked up and counter-productive, but what the hell is it in this instance that makes it ok to derive pleasure from the misery and death of others, to subjugate entire nations of people to one's fucking appetite for entertainment? Is it that pot is cool somehow? Is it that we're so trained to see social injustice when accompanied by Bernaysian marketing that is is invisible without it? Is it that the moral problem here isn't something you can just throw money at to feel good about? What is it exactly that makes it ok to pay drug lords?

Sure a better system could make all of this irrelevant, and sure the casual racism and classism of suburban America is responsible for the system we have, but no one other than pot smokers are responsible for people smoking pot anyway. Its a moral choice people make that says a lot about their character, and its not a pretty one.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:08 PM on March 18


"It's not the stark indifference of consumers that causes anything here, though. Caring about systems of oppression doesn't actually do anything, because caring about stuff (or being strident and self-righteous about it) doesn't create environmental protections in developing nations, nor does it give workers in those nations wage guarantees, or occupational health and safety oversight, or affordable, high-quality education for their children, or proper health care, and the list goes on."
Caring about the damage that the weed economy does to the world enough to not fucking smoke pot would in fact do something and just how ok it is among mainstream 'counter-culture' communities to send large amounts of disposable income into the hands of cartels is an important aspect of systemic oppression worth fighting.
"...what's the alternative for marijuana, exactly?"
Not considering yourself entitled to exactly what you want when it so clearly does so much harm to others?
posted by Blasdelb at 4:18 PM on March 18


Move on Blasdelb, this hobby-horse of yours isn't getting you anywhere. I love what you have to say about the things you're knowledgeable about, though.
posted by lordaych at 4:28 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


I mean really you'd be better off attacking the entire financial industry, or economics in general. It's a nonsense argument that is reducible to absurdity, real absurdity.
posted by lordaych at 4:31 PM on March 18


I heard cartels are getting in the Avocado business too. Better stop eating guacamole, mean ol' merkins.
posted by lordaych at 4:33 PM on March 18


Yeah, dude, of topics on which you have an learned grasp and can speak knowledgeably of, this is not one and it's frankly sort of embarrassing watching you vehemently espouse stereotypes and half-truths at people who have taken patient time and energy to attempt to disabuse you of these notions, as you do so yourself in threads in which you know what you are talking about.
posted by griphus at 4:35 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Also, last rapid-fire comment: Colorado's legal weed industry brought in $2M in one month in tax revenue, much of which is dedicated to funding schools. Guess what, you can change systems and the best way to do so is to completely defy everyone who insists that you can't. Not to "just stop smoking because WAHHH," sorry, no, it's my jam, and it's been locally produced for me for 10+ years. Like everything else that is produced, it has costs, let's just attack all consumption because bad people profit on all of it.
posted by lordaych at 4:35 PM on March 18


RAP BATTLE
posted by shakespeherian at 5:22 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Isn't cocaine not marijuana the major drug the Mexican cartels profit off? A priori, I'd imagine marijuana would be cheaper to grow here than transport across a militarized boarder since it costs so little, consumes considerable space, stinks horribly, etc. 

Regardless, there is no sane argument that keeping any drug illegal helps ordinary people in Central America, etc. We could easily legalize marijuana, cocaine, etc. only when provably produced in the U.S. The cartels would implode if possessing drugs with flawed "Made in the USA" paperwork carried a fine or even jail time for hard drugs like cocaine.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:27 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


BC grows an astounding amount of pot, reputedly on equal balance to its trade in timber and lumber. This pot is of such quality that it's supposedly traded pound-for-pound for cocaine (which, when cut, would yield a much higher profit). I really doubt Mexican weed is that good. I think the Mexican cartels are shifting a lot more cocaine than pot.

And, yes, avocados. Which I've started to buy again, because I figure it helps keep farm labourers employed even if it does mean the cartels take their slice.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:32 PM on March 18


Isn't cocaine not marijuana the major drug the Mexican cartels profit off?

Also meth. And apparently iron ore too.
posted by Hoopo at 6:18 PM on March 18


-How Terra Tech Helps Marijuana's 'Growing' Industry
-Bionic Plants Offer Superpowered Photosynthesis
posted by kliuless at 7:49 PM on March 18


Unless you grow it outside. Claiming that grow lamps are terrible for the environment without pointing out that its illegality that causes the growers to bring it inside is plain dumb.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:13 PM on March 18


Isn't cocaine not marijuana the major drug the Mexican cartels profit off? A priori, I'd imagine marijuana would be cheaper to grow here than transport across a militarized boarder since it costs so little, consumes considerable space, stinks horribly, etc.

Cartel weed is grown inside the US, not in Mexico. Cartels still control it.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:15 PM on March 18


Cartel weed is grown inside the US, not in Mexico

Pretty sure it's actually both. Mexico produces something like 20,000+ tons of pot annually, and that's not all for domestic use. The US apparently produces a similar amount of pot but it's not all cartel. Some cartels run some grow ops in the US, though..
posted by Hoopo at 9:35 PM on March 18


Schwaggy dirty weed typically still comes from Mexico and is in its condition due to the abuse that goes into compacting and storing/smuggling it. California grown stuff, even clandestine stuff is more salable if it doesn't look like shit, so I'm still banking on that brick-weed that I'll never look at again being produced within Mexico and largely overseen by cartels.

Just a funny teenage stoner coincidence "joke" that I encountered literally just now...but:

I'm looking into a bulk Ali Baba order of wax vaporizer dome dealie-bobs that I use with my e-cig batteries to get my Colorado Locally Grown stone on in addition to various other methods of administration...I use it both medically and recreationally, and if that's hard for people to process, IDGAF as long as they fall back and stay up out my business.

I made an inquiry and this nice womea Becca has been asking me non-stop about making an order, and I just haven't committed to it because I am awash in atomizer pieces and stuff both from my e-cig habit and the other brands and styles I've tried that are out there.

Anyway, here's where this company's office is located:
Company: Shenzhen Seego Technology Co., Ltd.
Country/Region: China (Mainland)
Address: Room 420, Huiheng building II, Xinnan 7 Road
North Technology Park
Nanshan District Shenzhen Guangdong
posted by lordaych at 10:18 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I left out the part where the California grown cartel weed would basically drop in value 4-10 times simply by giving it the compressed schwag treatment, and that treatment is entirely about getting over the border with as much weed, shitty or not, as possible. It's not necessary to compress to that extreme for interstate smuggling, which involves a ton of shipping using legitimate postal services in addition to regular schmoes driving it around.

Again, not a strong subject for the most strident moral arbiters to be arbiter-ing about. Reminds me of the Fox News interview here...
posted by lordaych at 10:28 PM on March 18


Not a dig at Ironmouth in particular, more the folks who just squawk CARTEL! and refuse to hear any nuance or insight from people who are experienced in these matters and weren't essentially indoctrinated in the same ways, whether self-inflicted or not.
posted by lordaych at 10:33 PM on March 18


Caring about the damage that the weed economy does to the world enough to not fucking smoke pot would in fact do something and just how ok it is among mainstream 'counter-culture' communities to send large amounts of disposable income into the hands of cartels is an important aspect of systemic oppression worth fighting.

I don't think this is an unreasonable concern, exactly. I just can't figure out the internal logic. Is it a consequentialist position, in which the argument is that buying pot causes suffering through the system of institutions which involves the cartel, or is it a position whose interest lies in remaining personally uninvolved in great injustices? (Or something else?)

If it's consequentialist, I'd say that it's not convincing because the cartels are structural institutions which don't depend on one or a hundred people or a hundred thousand people buying drugs, therefore non-systemic changes in the market have no meaningful effect on the existence of the industry. If it's personal non-involvement, it seems like moral vanity to me. I can feel great about myself for not doing all sorts of questionable things, but that doesn't redound to my credit like actions do, nor does it alter the world, so I don't see much merit.

"...what's the alternative for marijuana, exactly?"

Not considering yourself entitled to exactly what you want when it so clearly does so much harm to others?


This seems to be assuming what I thought was meant to be demonstrated somehow.
posted by clockzero at 10:35 PM on March 18


there's a lot of stuff in there about the illegal outdoor grows in California on public land that will make you want to throw up

Yes. People are assholes when there's lots of money at stake and you're working outside the law and the possible punishments for failure include being shot by your boss or shot by the guys who want to shoot your boss.

But people secretly growing on public land is a result of growing being illegal. Legalize growing (and importing) pot and growers will have no incentive to grow on public US land or do anything else illegal. They will buy their own land. They will be farmers with seed caps and dogs and pickup trucks and gun racks and overalls and corny music and goofy dances and proverbial daughters. And then you will regulate them like you regulate the guys growing corn and wheat.

The main difference between pot farmers and tomato farmers would be that pot farmers are growing a crop that cannot legally be distributed to minors but that lots of minors would very much like to have. It wouldn't be like growing broccoli. It would be more like running a farm where bottles of beer grow on trees. You'd need fences, alarms, dogs, and guards. You'd need security strong enough for to be able to argue that you'd done your reasonable best to keep your crop out of the hands of minors.
posted by pracowity at 1:38 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


How would it differ in that respect from growing tobacco?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:42 AM on March 19


As it happens, I'm doing a pile of work involving very custom LEDs, and pot (and, to a lesser extent, aquariums) are doing a tremendous amount to cause manufacturers to put out extraordinarily bright LEDs at very specific wavelengths with absolutely collapsing costs. Google for "multichip LEDs" -- if your data isn't current to the last few months, it's basically irrelevant.
posted by effugas at 2:16 AM on March 19


How would it differ in that respect from growing tobacco?

Don't you think the law (and general public) would come down particularly hard on growers who didn't keep pot out of reach of minors?

I suspect the average parent (and angry mob of parents) would react much more strongly to their little elementary-school darlings smoking a cigarette that gets them wasted than they would to their little darlings just smoking a regular cigarette.

And then there's the matter of children and public intoxication (or whatever it's called when you're high, not drunk). It's one thing to have a classroom full of kids who have rolled their own stolen tobacco and come back coughing and stinking of smoke, and it's another thing to have a classroom full of 11-year-old kids all completely wasted and giggling on weed stolen from Farmer Brown's field next door to the school.
posted by pracowity at 2:44 AM on March 19


LED grow lights

Can police helicopters see these through your roof?

Because a friend.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:23 AM on March 19


obi--

You know, I don't know. Certainly they drop much, much less IR than normal incandescents. The power supplies will glow but I think you'd be using much less of them.
posted by effugas at 4:30 AM on March 19


How would it differ in that respect from growing tobacco?

Tobacco is cured before use, which takes anything from a week to several months depending on how you do it. At the very least, smoking uncured tobacco would be a very different experience from normal smoking and I wouldn't be surprised if it in some way tasted really gross.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:55 AM on March 19


Yeah, but theoretically Junior could steal a bunch of tobacco and cure it and smoke it. The real difference for most people will be that tobacco doesn't get you high.
posted by pracowity at 7:00 AM on March 19


The real difference for most people will be that tobacco doesn't get you high.

It absolutely does. If you're used to cigarettes (or chew), your experience is limited to a pretty intense stimulant effect (and horrible addiction), but if you only smoke a pipe or large-diameter cigar occasionally and in moderation, you can appreciate the consciousness-altering effects. I find it excites imagination and promotes contemplation - probably why pipe smoking was so closely associated with intellectual pursuits. (And hence the term "pipe dream.")

This is a pretty big concern about legalization - commercial concerns will seek to optimize their profit by creating forms of cannabis consumption that maximize profit at the expense of the health of the consumer, and degrade the quality and nature of the psychotropic effect.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:23 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


At least from what I've been reading, I suspect it'll be closer to the alcohol market than the tobacco market, though. There's a push to have maximum yields for individual growers as a way to keep money from crowding out competition and creating a race to the bottom in that way.

Who knows if it'll actually work out that way, but, like I said, I think this is the sort of market where the variety in product means the demand will be closer to Night Train wine on one end, and decent wine on the other, rather than Basics on one end and American Spirits on the other. I feel like a lot fewer people want quality cigarettes than they do quality booze.
posted by griphus at 8:14 AM on March 19


(And hence the term "pipe dream.")

"Pipe dream" is in reference to opium pipes. A rather more definitively psychoactive drug.
posted by yoink at 8:45 AM on March 19


In the world of legal pot (and the huge price reduction that goes along with it) people are going to be as likely to steal pot as the they are to steal orchard fruit. Sure there will be some shrinkage but it won't be from elementary school kids. How the heck would your average elementary school kid get out to a weed farm? Kids will get their weed the same way they get their beer: by stealing it from parents; bootleggers; or convincing older people to buy it for them.
posted by Mitheral at 8:52 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


How the heck would your average elementary school kid get out to a weed farm?

Depends where the farm is. I grew up between a dairy farm (cows munching grass outside my window) and a corn field and the woods, but within a bicycle ride of a number of schools and various suburbs and a medium-sized industrial city and an Indian reservation. If that corn field had instead been an unguarded field of weed, you can bet I and about a zillion other kids would have been in there at one time or another during our childhoods. (And we probably would have run into our parents sneaking around the other way.)
posted by pracowity at 9:26 AM on March 19


And there would be no need to grow it on farms, if you could grow it in your backyard...

Just like there's no need to grow tomatoes, corn, or tobacco on farms, because you can grow them in your backyard?

I think there will be plenty of demand for commercial-scale production, particularly because as the legal market matures there will be a lot of consumers who have no interest in cannabis in its raw form because they don't want to smoke it, but prefer it processed into vaporizer "juice" or edibles, etc. The cannabis farm will only be one step on a supply chain that produces finished goods, just as a tobacco farm is only one step along the chain that produces a carton of cigarettes or e-cig juice or nicotine gum. Cottage industry isn't going to compete with that.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:52 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


I wonder how long it will take for Stoner Monsanto to appear and start dominating the licensed shops with plants that buyers are contractually forbidden to cultivate on their own.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:26 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


nobody much seems to be saying "and until such time as the legal framework is changed, the ethical thing would be to cease consumption" Using pot is so much more of a hassle than drinking that an awful lot of people just don't use it. I hadn't touched it in years until I visited Colorado and was gifted some homegrown - not sure if they're LED lights. It's clear that a sizeable group of people really, really wants access to pot. It seems to be not terribly unsafe. Certainly seems a lot safer income than gambling, which states have embraced enthusiastically. So, time to do the expedient thing and legalize it. Most Coloradans seemed 'meh' about legalization, except for the tax income, and the reduction in police costs. Other states are going to see that income and pot's going to be legal most places pretty soon. Once legal, efficiency will apply greater pressure on growers.

My friend-of-a-friend in Colorado commented about wanting to be able to invest in pot stocks. My inner hippie had a brain jolt at that.
posted by theora55 at 10:50 AM on March 19


dominating the licensed shops with plants that buyers are contractually forbidden to cultivate on their own.

They probably wouldn't need to do that, just grind everything to a uniform consistency. No seeds, no problem.

You don't make a fortune growing tomatoes, you make a fortune selling ketchup.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:55 AM on March 19


Yeah... well y'know, that's just like... your opinion, man...
posted by freakazoid at 11:10 AM on March 19


Looking back at the comments that have accumulated, I'm struck by the urge to target one particular series of comments, those from blasdelb.

Blasdelb, you have a notable and apparent personal axe to grind with people who--in your estimation--are morally failing by being consumers in a market that has widely acknowledged problems. As much as I hope you apply that kind of scrutiny to every other aspect of your life, I know that this is just as much of a personal conviction that's clouding my ability to respond to your statements thoughtfully. And so, I hope it isn't lost on you that many, many people are working (professionally and as volunteers) on this issue for the sole purpose of improving the situation for everyone touched by the dreadful inauspices of a black market. It is senseless to expect absitnence from a population that is never inclined toward abstinence by its very nature--insistence otherwise is very Lutheran and socially proper but it is not in line with what epidemiology has been telling us about human nature for a very long time. Unless your position is that any activities that have a carbon cycle aspect are unimaginable harms and therefore can never be excused, the problems raised in this thread are the result of regulatory policies and aren't inherent to the growing and use of marijuana.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 12:11 PM on March 19


It is senseless to expect absitnence from a population that is never inclined toward abstinence by its very nature--insistence otherwise is very Lutheran and socially proper but it is not in line with what epidemiology has been telling us about human nature for a very long time.

But the fact that we have good reason to suppose that this market will continue regardless of our personal choices (and the fact that legalization would be one rational response to that situation) is irrelevant to the question of whether or not one has a personal ethical responsibility to stay out of the market unless and until some structural remedies are put in place. I mean, blood diamonds are going to find a market whether or not I personally buy them, and my personal decision whether or not to participate in the blood diamond market won't bring an end to that trade--but does that absolve me from any ethical responsibility if I decide to knowingly purchase blood diamonds?
posted by yoink at 1:38 PM on March 19


Those ultra-high efficiency LED grow lights everybody seems to think are so great don't actually produce intense enough light, to be useful for growing anything other than sprouts, or keeping your clones alive.

This may be true of some models, but not all. When i was still working at a medical dispensary, a couple of the guys there had gotten money from the shop to sort of "beta test" the various LED lights. High output ones are available, but they draw more like 80 watts and need to have 4 large, computer case sized fans constantly blasting inside of the unit. They're also the size of a large pizza box, and have craploads of expensive UV-range LEDs in them compared to the smaller units that were only suited to the sort of thing you're talking about.

The size comparison between the two was like, a small desktop PC you'd get at costco, and a full tower old school upright-server sized chasis.

They were absolutely capable of totally growing plants though, and replaced the high-pressure setup that had formerly been at one place...

Yes, they were very expensive though. Like, as i remember, close to $1500? They also drew as much power as my macbook doing some 3d rendering though, which is a hugeeeee improvement.

Also, you know that now that there's a huge market in WA and CO for those things, someone is going to start a huge assembly line in china(which is already where they're made, but on a small scale) and it'll be the CHRONITRON 2500XL for like, $299.99 and everyone will have warehouses full of them. You could probably run over 20 on one 30 amp circuit...
posted by emptythought at 1:47 PM on March 19


Just like there's no need to grow tomatoes, corn, or tobacco on farms, because you can grow them in your backyard?

Unlike corn and tomatoes, which are staple goods, a few pot plants will easily supply a year's worth of recreational supply, especially if one uses a vapourizer.

A better comparison would be to habenaro peppers, cherry tomatos, or rhubarb. For most people most of the time, a few square feet of garden supplied more than enough of these products.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:49 PM on March 19


It's still true that the vast majority of cherry tomatoes and habenaro peppers are grown on commercial farms. I see no reason why pot would be any different.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:24 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


And I'm not saying it would be different. I'm saying that while virtually no typical American household's tomato or corn consumption would be adequately supplied by a backyard grow, their typical raw habanero, rhubarb, and pot needs would. That's not to say Siracha and Betty Crocker's needs would be met; nor the needs of cancer patients, MS suffers, or hardcore stoners.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:50 PM on March 19


I like the idea of a pot plot behind everyone's house, but if the guys I remember from my teenage years are any indication of kids these days, people will have to grow hidden plants or have high fences and big dogs, because free dope.
posted by pracowity at 2:01 AM on March 20


yoink, There are many jewelers pushing inexpensive manufactured diamonds with marketing like "Diamonds that are lab-created are the only way to truly ensure your diamond is 100% ecologically friendly and free of human conflict", roughly the moral equivalent of buying American marijuana.

Also, our diamond consumption was created by the De Beers cartel advertising, suggesting that demand could die out, while prohibition has never effectively combated drug use.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:17 AM on March 20


In any case, there are myriad reasons we prefer that people take marijuana rather than alcohol or stimulants : Vaporized marijuana and eaten marijuana products are much less physically harmful than alcohol, although obviously marijuana smoke is harmful, like cigaret smoke. Aggression is less likely on marijuana than on alcohol or stimulants. etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:30 AM on March 20


Families Uprooting to Marijuana-Friendly States to Treat Children
posted by homunculus at 11:19 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


No, legalizing medical marijuana doesn’t lead to crime, according to actual crime stats
posted by homunculus at 2:37 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


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