Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal


Ryan Dadgari


The discourse surrounding legalizing marijuana use and cultivation is full of political, legal, and economic voices. While some discussions address the high electricity consumption of marijuana grow operations and their effects on the energy grid, few—if any—discuss whether or not public utilities could be held federally liable for supplying power to marijuana grows and incentivizing growers to use more energy efficient methods. Just as banks, doctors and lawyers could be at risk for providing their services to this emerging industry, so too could public utilities. In some cases, utilities that refuse to provide service to state-legal marijuana grow operations experience theft of electricity. This occurs in states where marijuana cultivation is both legal and prohibited. Until Congress intervenes, public utilities must continue to operate in legal limbo if they supply power and incentives to marijuana grows. Legitimate state-legal marijuana businesses face a persistent dearth of resources that other legitimate businesses receive, and high energy consumption will increasingly strain our overburdened power grids. These issues could be addressed through a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission order, Congressional action, or Supreme Court rule.