Three years ago, Oklahoma joined the growing majority of U.S. states with legalized medical marijuana.
But unlike in other states, officials imposed little to no restrictions on cannabis cultivation — leading to what’s now considered the “Wild West” of marijuana.
The phenomenon created a host of problems, from rapidly rising land prices to an inability to track where Oklahoma-grown marijuana is shipped.
The latest issue, local officials warned NPR, could be the strain placed on utilities in the state.
Water district managers, particularly in rural Oklahoma, said a surge in water demand from cannabis farms could compromise decades-old pipes.
One told the network that he projects the district will “run out of water” entirely.
The arrival of large growing operations, meanwhile, also sparked a huge jump in demand for electricity.
Should utilities need to add more capacity, local residents could be left holding the bill for new power infrastructure — if and when the state’s cannabis bubble bursts.