Connect with us


Minnesota Republicans Warn Of ‘Blackouts And Brownouts’ From Marijuana Cultivation’s Energy Use



Two Minnesota Republican state lawmakers are claiming that home cultivation of cannabis as the result of the legalization law enacted by the Democratic legislature and governor last year could lead to a power failure as grow lights put an overwhelming strain on the state’s electrical grid.

“Now, I hope most of you are not familiar with the marijuana grow operation,” Rep. Paul Novotny (R) said at an event last weekend, “but I will tell you that it takes a ton of electricity.”

“Get ready for blackouts and brownouts. That’s what’s going to happen,” added Sen. Eric Lucero (R), who called cultivation under the law “unsustainable.”

As noted by Heartland Signal, which reported on the event, some states that have legalized marijuana, such as Massachusetts and Illinois, have taken steps to regulate energy use. Many, however, have done little to curb power consumption, according to a New Frontier Data report in 2018 that found that cannabis cultivation in the U.S. consumed about as much energy as the country’s Starbucks stores.

In addition to grow lights, indoor cultivation can also require various temperature and humidity controls, which also consume electricity.


Nevertheless, the GOP politicians are exaggerating the industry’s threat to electrical stability in Minnesota posed by marijuana. There has never been a “shutting down electric plants” caused by cannabis cultivation as Novotny warned will happen in Minnesota in his comments at the Americans for Prosperity event.

Republicans in the state have largely been sour on marijuana legalization as Democratic lawmakers moved to enact the policy change last year. As Heartland Signal pointed out, just five Republican House members and one senator voted for the legislation.

GOP concerns about cannabis reform go beyond energy issues. Sen. John Jasinski (R) last year also spoke out against legalization, saying it would lead to early retirement for drug-sniffing dogs.

Elsewhere in Minnesota party politics, Democrats recently asked the state Supreme Court to decertify the Legal Marijuana Now Party as a major political party. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party says the pro-marijuana party has failed to comply with state election laws.

State marijuana regulators and Gov. Tim Walz (D), meanwhile, recently said they support changes to state law that would streamline the start of legal cannabis sales and promote equity in the industry.

Ahead of the planned launch of legal sales next year, the city of Osseo is considering whether to open the state’s first municipally run marijuana retailer—a move leaders say would provide more local control over the look, feel and operations of the store.

A city report published last month said officials are currently waiting on the state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) to hire a new director and proceed with opening license applications.

Products would likely be available April 2025, it says.

OCM officials gave an update on the state’s implementation of cannabis legalization during a webinar late last month, emphasizing that they’re working as quickly as possible to speed the transition to legal sales.

One agency plan, which would require approval from lawmakers, would begin issuing licenses for the state’s legal marijuana industry ahead of schedule—“as soon as this summer”—with an emphasis on prioritizing social equity applicants.

“We want to include a mechanism for temporary licenses, particularly for social equity applicants,” said Charlene Briner, OCM’s interim director. “And when I say temporary licenses, I mean early licenses—so as soon as this summer, depending on if the legislature decides to take us up on that.”

OCM also wants to lower equity ownership requirements from 100 percent to 65 percent, which Briner said “increases the opportunity for social equity applicants to actually acquire capital and secure funding.”

Minnesota’s cannabis law has already allowed tribes within the state to open marijuana businesses before the state begins licensing traditional retailers, and some tribal governments—including the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, the White Earth Nation and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe—have already entered the legal market.

But after a controversy in which a Red Lake Nation Tribal Council member was accused stealing from the store, NativeCare, the tribal government reportedly has pressed pause on cannabis operations.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

The OCM presentation came after the agency earlier this year recommended a number of changes to the state’s legalization law in order to help consumers make the transition to a regulated system.

Adults 21 and older in Minnesota can already legally use, possess and grow marijuana for personal use. In August, the governor clarified that homegrown cannabis cannot be sold commercially.

Following legalization, minor violations of possession or home cultivation limits can result in petty misdemeanors, charges some advocates have said should include state-provided legal representation.

Even before Walz signed the reform bill, the state launched a website that serves as a hub for information about the new law. Officials have also already started soliciting vendors to help build a licensing system for recreational marijuana businesses.

Walz has also renewed his search for a top marijuana regulator to lead OCM. In September, the office’s former head, Erin DuPree, a cannabis industry consultant, stepped down after one day of work following a Star Tribune report that her hemp shop allegedly sold illegal products. Lab results reportedly showed elevated THC levels and the presence of banned synthetic ingredients.

Also in September, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the odor of marijuana, on its own, does not establish probable cause for police officers to search a vehicle.

Aside from OCM, another body created by Minnesota’s marijuana law is the Cannabis Expungement Board, which will facilitate record sealing for people with eligible marijuana convictions on their records. The review process for eligible cases began in August. In the meantime, officials recently added a new notice to cannabis criminal history records, essentially letting reviewers know that certain marijuana records that appear on records checks may be pending expungement.

Wisconsin Republican Lawmakers Continue To Fail Voters With ‘Smoke And Mirrors’ Medical Marijuana Promises (Op-Ed)

Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
Become a patron at Patreon!

Ben Adlin, a senior editor at Marijuana Moment, has been covering cannabis and other drug policy issues professionally since 2011. He was previously a senior news editor at Leafly, an associate editor at the Los Angeles Daily Journal and a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs. He lives in Washington State.


Marijuana News In Your Inbox

Get our daily newsletter.

Support Marijuana Moment

Marijuana News In Your Inbox


Get our daily newsletter.