Could New LED Mandate Destroy Cali’s Cannabis Quality? Some Experts Say “Yes”

cannabis grow room horticulture lights

The California Energy Commission proposal could push new energy efficiency standards for the indoor lighting cannabis growers use.

LEDs are becoming more commonplace in grow rooms. But fixtures using high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights are currently the go-to for some of the best cannabis being grown at the moment.

Thus, without HPS lights for cannabis grows, the potential for dwindling cannabis quality in the California legal marketplace rises. The five utility companies funding the report proposing the new change will, in essence, be artificially capping the potency.

The proposed changes are for the energy code. This code historically only handled commercial and industrial buildings. However, the update will expand the code to indoor and greenhouse horticultural operations in excess of 1,000 square feet in area. With this being the case, this would affect conventional agriculture, and this includes cannabis.

Bob Gunn, the founder of Seinergy, is working to rally the cannabis sector against this proposal. He explained the dilemma to L.A. Weekly.

“I started hearing about the California Energy Commission looking at energy code for horticulture lighting last year,” Gunn explained. “The first time it really came up was at a utility conference – you know, utility people talking about cannabis energy use.”

Gunn believes that Cali is being pushed to take action as other states have begun regulating the industry’s total power load on the grid.

“So, I started to hear about Massachusetts starting to regulate. They put in 36 watts per square foot–which is annoying, Illinois did something very similar. And then, California saying, well, we need to kind of, you know, whack down the energy use somehow,” Gunn explained.

This where the confusion began. Gunn highlighted that when people in cannabis discuss lighting, it’s quite different from when other people discuss lighting.

“We think, you know, two watts per square foot for an office building or one and a half watts per square foot for a restaurant like that’s the energy code called title 24.”

Gunn explained that when growers use HPS lights, or any other lighting sources used in a controlled environment, they’re not usually regulated. 

“It’s like they don’t say how much energy per gram of steel smelting you can use or how many kilowatt-hours per donut you can make, but that’s what they’re starting to do with cannabis.”


Louis Levey is the Content Success Manager and Founder at No Strings Content. He's passionate about helping cannabis businesses use content to attract, educate, and convert audiences. His hometown is Boca Raton, Florida, but he currently lives and works remotely in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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