Years ago, we wrote a blog post that could be characterized as salacious.  We’ve covered the virtual water footprint of your food, your clothes, your “adult beverages,” and other modern conveniences.  So what of some peoples’ extra-legal hobbies?

Since that post went live, marijuana in California has been legalized for recreational use.  And so, we return to this topic to explore the question: to the teetotaler who never smoked the illegal drug, what are the ecological costs and benefits associated with giving it a whirl now that it’s legal?


The key to legalization is regulation of marijuana production.  If an illegal growing operation must hide its crops, it can’t be held to water use restrictions.    So now that weed is legal in California, is there more of an effort to keep production green?

In fact, now that marijuana growers in California can go legit, and even those who were once under-the-radar support measures to permit and regulate the industry.    Prior to legalization, 70% of all weed grown in the state was done so illegally, and since marijuana requires double the water of grapes, finding ways to reduce that footprint can mean major water savings.  Colorado, another state with legalized marijuana, is already pioneering low-water growing methods. 


A final consideration comes down to how it’s consumed.  If you tend toward edibles, spare a thought for what you’re eating.  This is where knowledge of your food’s virtual water footprint comes in handy.  Brownies use chocolate with a whopping footprint of 17,196 liters per kg, whereas a product like gummy bears is far more eco-friendly. 

As with any other drug, be it legal or illegal, medicinal or recreational, we strongly urge our readers to consider the impacts of usage before partaking.  Where appropriate, consult a doctor.  That said, California’s now a green state in more ways than one, so think green if you decide to light up.

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