Cannabis Investment Conundrum: Too Much Power for Too Little Yield?
By Daily Bell Staff - November 05, 2015

Marijuana grows causing blackouts, power company says … Dozens of people in Northeast Portland lost power amid the sizzle of summer because of marijuana. Two indoor grows in the same area overloaded the circuits, causing an outage for about 200 customers. That was one of seven outages from grows that's hit Pacific Power since July. – Oregon Live

Dominant Social Theme: We'll buy big factories, grow the stuff and sell it for a big profit.

Free-Market Analysis: As The Daily Bell has been warning, growing and marketing cannabis is becoming more complex as the industry expands. In fact, chief editor Anthony Wile has warned investors not to "rush in" because the cannabis industry is in flux and will go through comprehensive changes as the industry matures.

"Take your time and look for internationally positioned opportunities," he cautioned "Avoid regionally focused companies – they may not be around as long as you think. Fools rush in."

This warning will surely continue to prove prescient. One of the biggest issues facing the new entrepreneurial class that has committed millions to cannabis is whether they have got the economics right. For many, the answer may be "not yet" or even "not really."

Much of the initial entrepreneurial activity took place in the Northern Hemisphere where forms of cannabis (mostly medical) were initially decriminalized or legalized. But the evolution of the business will likely be toward equatorial climes where the growing season is all-year-round and agricultural experience – especially with growing and exporting flowers – is significant. After all, cannabis is just another flower.

Already, countries located near the equator are eyeing the profits and rich taxes of their northern neighbors and deciding that they are positioned to participate in a similar fashion.

The Daily Bell recently reported, for instance, on Colombia's decision to fashion regulations that would rationalize the commercialization of certain forms of cannabis.

We also reported on an upcoming Supreme Court decision in Mexico that might extend the limits of legal cannabis. Now that verdict has been rendered – and it is a positive one for plaintiffs.

See this AP report:

Mexico's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that growing, possessing and smoking marijuana for recreation is legal under the right to freedom. The measure was approved in 4-1 vote on the five-justice panel, backing the argument that smoking marijuana is covered under the right of "free development of personality."

At this point, the ruling covers only the plaintiffs in a single case, a group of four people wanting to form a pot club. The ruling did not approve the sale or commercial production of marijuana nor does it imply a general legalization. But if the court rules the same way on five similar petitions, it would then establish the precedent to change the law and allow general recreational use.

Meanwhile, reports warning about excessive water and power usage from northern cannabis cultivators continue to grow. More from the Oregon Live article excerpted above:

Steve Corson, spokesman for PGE, said it estimates that about 10 percent of the 400 transformers it has to replace a year are overheated by people growing marijuana. "It's common to see 1,000 watt bulbs in a marijuana grows," Corson said. "Maybe you don't need a whole bank of those."

Earlier this year the Denver Post warned that "Denver's Energy Use Is Surging, And It's Because Of Weed."

The article pointed out that the burgeoning cannabis industry was "straining the city's electrical grid." Half of a recent spike in electrical consumption came from cannabis cultivation, the article reported.

Citywide electricity use has been rising at the rate of 1.2 per cent a year, and 45 per cent of that increase comes from marijuana-growing facilities, Denver officials said …

Boulder Weekly has more depressing stats on the problem with indoor weed growth: According to data from Xcel Energy and estimates from those familiar with indoor growing, a single light used to grow 16 square feet of pot consumes about half as much energy as the average Colorado house in a one-month time frame. This isn't just a Denver problem.

The Vancouver Sun has suggested that greenhouse cannabis is British Columbia's "Next Great Industry." It called the rise in cultivation "one of the greatest shifts of the decade."

The article came out in January of 2015 and since its posting, the news for Canadian cannabis proponents has gotten even better. Now, new prime minister Justin Trudeau intends to legalize cannabis altogether.

But the same Sun article that predicted the promise of the cannabis "shift" warned of the negatives inherent in the industry from a Canadian viewpoint, calling indoor cultivation both "economically and environmentally inefficient."

These are not, unfortunately, theoretical points. Environmental groups can be very vocal, especially in the West. And cannabis has its enemies.

It is perfectly possible, for instance, that pot-hating conservative groups could seek to make common cause with environmentalists that frown on the increasing power and water usage inherent in cannabis cultivation in colder climates.

This kind of "conservative environmentalism" has not yet coalesced, so far as we can tell, in part because the alternatives to northern cultivation are not well developed. But investors in the extraordinary opportunity that is the expanding cannabis industry should be cognizant of these possibilities.

Certainly we can see environmental activism becoming more pronounced and it has a chance for public support if power and water usage climbs to the point where it begins to affect municipal cost structures. If residents are faced with an increased bill as a result of cannabis cultivation, look for environmental criticisms of the industry to gain credibility quickly.

After Thoughts

Here at The Daily Bell we've been covering the cannabis opportunity from its start when Uruguay declared its incipient legalization. As a result, we've anticipated many of the changes that are taking place as it evolves. You can stay up to date regarding cannabis and other select opportunities by subscribing to our Newswire.

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