Jeana's World of Law

Jeana's World of Law

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Marijuana Growers "Go Green"

It looks like California's green initiatives and gusto have spilled over state-lines into New Mexico, but not in the way you'd think it would have. 

Illegal marijuana growers in NM have increasingly been using solar panels as a power source for their plants, both to stay off of the local grid and avoid detection by law enforcement officials.

A 2012 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study reported that $6 billion worth of electricity is being spent on indoor marijuana-growing in the US each year. This is about 1 percent of national power consumption - enough electricity to power two million homes.

Solar panels may cost a lot of money, but they allow marijuana growers to avoid using huge amounts of electricity from nearby power sources, which can tip off the police to their illegal activities. 

The NM state police recently broke up a marijuana operation that used solar-powered water pumps. But this is no new feat. In 2010, New Mexico police pulled over than 1,500 plants from what they called a “very elaborate and sophisticated” marijuana operation that used “solar panels, water pumps, batteries, and hundreds of yards of hose that functioned on timers.” 

This increase in demand for solar power has also resulted in many thefts of solar panels from residential homes and businesses, particularly in the CA wine country. In 2010 several solar panel thefts occurred at Napa Valley wineries and vineyards. California state authorities have in result increased their watch against solar panel thefts. The authorities believe the thefts were directly related to a criminal ring that sold the panels to illegal marijuana growers, and that solar panels San Diego to San Francisco may be at risk of theft.

Solar San Diego projects have given the city it's title of most solar city in not only the state but in the US, but I have a feeling that this influx of solar power won't give NM anything to boast about. 

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