By Globe Staff  March 08, 2018

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On its face, the idea hardly seems objectionable: With the state obliged to reduce greenhouse gases by 2020, regulators should act now to address the large amounts of electricity consumed by major indoor pot-growing operations where energy-hungry high-pressure sodium lamps can burn 24 hours a day.

But a new regulation set by the Cannabis Control Commission to do just that — by limiting the amount of electricity that can be used for lighting to an average of 36 watts per square foot of cultivation space — has the industry howling in protest as it prepares for the debut of recreational sales this summer.

To stay under that cap, growers say, they would have to use LED lights that, while cooler and far more efficient, are five to 10 times more expensive than traditional bulbs. Worse, they said, most of those LED fixtures emit less intense light across fewer frequencies, which in turn causes each plant to yield less marijuana and, in some cases, buds that are not as dense or potent.

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“If the commission’s trying to ensure that Massachusetts is known as a state with poor-quality product and high prices, this is a great way to do it,” said Kris Krane, president of 4Front Ventures, a cannabis consulting and investment firm that also plans to open its own dispensary in Worcester this year. “I’d love it if we could get to a place where it’s feasible to grow high-quality product and keep prices down at 36 watts, but I’ve talked to experts around the country and the LED technology is just not there.”

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