Maryland’s cannabis vote could dial up the LED lighting

Oct. 24, 2022
Fluence, other vendors, and growers will closely watch the state’s Nov. 8 ballot.

As a top provider of LED lights to cannabis growers, Fluence keeps a close eye on the always evolving legislative measures determining the legality of marijuana around the world. At the moment, it has a sharp focus on Maryland.

That’s because on Nov. 8 voters in the state will decide whether to legalize the drug for recreational purposes.

 A “yes” could potentially quadruple Fluence’s presence in the jurisdiction, where the Austin, Texas company already provides grower Culta with LED lights that nurture cannabis for medical use.

Bethesda-based Culta grows cannabis both indoors and outdoors in the eastern city of Cambridge. Some 450 Fluence LED luminaires are everywhere in the indoor facilities. They illuminate all of the propagation and vegetation rooms, and make up about 60% of the lighting in the flowering rooms, with the balance being high-pressure sodium (HPS) for legacy reasons.

To put some numbers on that, Culta currently runs six flowering rooms, three each of LED and HPS. But the LEDs cover a canopy of 2,048 ft2, stacked in two tiers; the HPS cover a smaller, single tiered canopy of 1,540 ft2, with the lighting mounted higher in part to prevent heat from damaging the crop.

Culta senior director of cultivation Jay Bouton has already decided that HPS has run its course. Any new lighting will be all LED including in the flowering rooms. And should Maryland give the thumbs up to adult recreational cannabis use, Culta foresees a huge expansion.

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“We’re sitting here patiently waiting for the recreational market to come,” Bouton told LEDs Magazine. “We’re very hopeful that July of next year, or 2024 January, that recreational sales will be allowed here in the state. We already have plans to build out 9 to 12 more indoor flower rooms, all of which would be double stacked.”

Doing the math, that’s three to four times more canopy, or using round numbers, an increase from roughly 6,144 ft2 to between 18,400 and 25,000. The company would also build out a commensurate number of propagation and vegetation rooms, all under LEDs.

All of that would require LED lighting, either from Fluence, or a competitor.

Fluence, which is part of Dutch lighting giant Signify, has made a sound business practice out of monitoring global marijuana legislative action. CEO David Cohen and his colleagues, for instance, have taken to the internet airwaves to help publicly explain U.S. federal laws, as well as to describe the rough and tumble of tumble of state and local action.

It’s a safe bet to assume he will be watching the results come in on the “Maryland Legalization Amendment,” also known as “Question 4,” when voters go to their balloting station on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

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