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What takes more water to produce: Glass of wine, hamburger patty — or a joint?

A report produced by San Luis Obispo County compares water usage of marijuana farming compared to other popular products.
A report produced by San Luis Obispo County compares water usage of marijuana farming compared to other popular products.

After five years of drought, the amount of water it takes to grow marijuana is a major concern for California counties in the midst of drafting regulations in preparation for commercial licensing of cannabis farms.

But cannabis isn’t the biggest water guzzler when comparing the amount of water it takes to produce popular products, according to data the San Luis Obispo County Planning and Building Department found. County supervisors are considering regulations for commercial cannabis activities that could go into effect as soon as October.

Estimates of water usage to produce marijuana, in comparison to wine and hamburger meat were included in a report produced in preparation for a upcoming Planning Commission hearings about commercial cannabis regulations.

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The report says:

▪  One pound of cannabis takes about 150 gallons of water. That equates to about 2.4 cups of water for one joint (assuming one pound produces 1,000 joints).

▪  One gallon of wine takes about 870 gallons of water. That equates to about 54 gallons for an 8-ounce glass of wine.

▪  One pound of hamburger meat takes about 1,800 gallons of water. That equates to about 600 gallons for a 1/3-pound burger.

Information about water use of cannabis is estimated by the Mendocino Cannabis Policy Council and the Emerald Growers Association and is based on an average 150-day growing cycle.

The county report notes that water usage for cannabis cultivation varies on a variety of factors, including density, climate, indoor versus outdoor cultivation and strain.

Monica Vaughan: 805-781-7930, @MonicaLVaughan

Correction: An earlier version of this article miscalculated the amount of water used to produced one joint.

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