Marijuana use, whether for recreational or medicinal purposes, is growing. Because some states prohibit growing hemp plants outdoors, much of the production is indoors—an energy-intensive operation that requires grow lights, air conditioning, and dehumidification.[1]

Cannabis cultivation centers (where the plants are grown) have been likened to data centers, which are “50 to 200 times more energy-intense than a typical office building.”[2] With more states expected to legalize recreational cannabis in the next few years (medical use is currently legal in 33 states,[3] and adult recreational cannabis use is currently legal in 11 states[4]), demand for marijuana will continue to grow, bringing with it strain on energy resources.

In Illinois, energy efficiency is a statewide concern, including in the cannabis sector. Under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, cultivation centers (where the hemp plants are grown) must have an energy and resource plan, including:

(i) energy needs, including estimates of monthly electricity and gas usage, to what extent it will procure energy from a local utility or from on-site generation, and if it has or will adopt a sustainable energy use and energy conservation policy;

(ii) water needs, including estimated water draw and if it has or will adopt a sustainable water use and water conservation policy; and

(iii) waste management, including if it has or will adopt a waste reduction policy.[5]

The statute also specifies technological standards for the facility, including for lights, HVAC systems, automated water application, and water filtration.[6]

These measures may be especially important due to the marked uptick in cannabis use during the COVID-19 pandemic,[7] though overall electricity demand fell in the Midwest this spring, likely due to decreased manufacturing and other economic activity.[8]

[1] Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Indoor Agriculture, (last visited Sept. 17, 2020).

[2] Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Legalized Cannabis and Energy Use

[3] State Medical Marijuana Laws, Nat’l Conference of State Legislators (Mar. 10, 2020), (last visited Sept. 17, 2020).

[4]Marijuana Overview, Nat’l Conference of State Legislators (Oct. 17, 2019), (last visited Sept. 17, 2020).

[5] 410 Ill. Comp. Stat. 705/20-15(a)(18) (2019).

[6] 705/20-15(a)(23).

[7] Alison Stine, You Know What Else Has Sold Well During the Pandemic? Weed Edibles, N.Y. Times (Sept. 4, 2020),

[8] Daily electricity demand impacts from COVID-19 mitigation efforts differ by region, U.S. Energy Info. Admin. (May 7, 2020), (last visited Sept. 17, 2020).