Massachusetts sets new rules that limit energy use by marijuana growers

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Massachusetts’ marijuana industry is up in arms over new regulations designed to limit the amount of electricity that growers can use.

According to The Boston Globe, the Cannabis Control Commission’s final rules for the recreational marijuana industry cap electricity use at 36 watts per square foot of cultivation space.

It’s an unusual step for state regulators. It’s not immediately clear whether regulators in other states have imposed such a limit, which can push up costs for growers.

In Boulder, Colorado, licensed medical and recreational marijuana growers are required to report their energy use to the city and offset 100% of their electricity use.

To offset their power use, Boulder growers can install solar panels or another form of renewable energy in their facility or purchase offsets through a city-approved program.

What you need to know about Massachusetts’ energy-use regulations:

  • Growers say to meet these restrictions they would have to use LED lights that are far more expensive than traditional lights.
  • They also complain that LED lights emit less powerful light that results in inferior cannabis, particularly in terms of density and potency.
  • LED lighting has been making inroads across the industry. LEDs are reputed to be up to 40% more energy efficient – and thus cheaper to use – than traditional lighting such as high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights. Growers in some states have begun using only LED lights.
  • The electricity-use regulations are part of a broader initiative: The state is obligated to reduce greenhouse gases by 2020 as well as overall energy-usage levels.
  • The cannabis commission has a March 15 deadline to publicize its final regulations.