It’s truly remarkable how many different cannabinoids the hemp plant produces in its relatively short yet prolific lifespan. As of now, scientists have identified more than 100 cannabinoids and over 400 other plant-based (phyto-) chemicals that hemp produces. However, what remained unclear for a long time was how different environmental factors affected cannabinoid production—until recent studies shed light on this topic.

In this post, we’ll delve into a 2023 study that examines environmental factors such as light and soil and their impact on hemp flower potency. We’ll explore key questions such as:

  • Is sungrown hemp more potent than indoor-grown hemp?
  • Can the plant’s light source affect the user’s entourage effect?
  • Do external factors influence terpene production?

What Is Sungrown Hemp?

Sungrown hemp is a specific type of outdoor hemp that germinates, reaches maturity, and fully flowers in natural sunlight. Unlike indoor hemp, which is grown under artificial lights, sungrown hemp is exposed to the beneficial bacteria in the soil and is more resilient to molds and pest pressures. This natural method of cultivation is believed to produce a more robust and potent plant.

Is Sungrown Hemp More Potent Than Indoor?

A study published in January 2023, titled “Comparison of the Cannabinoid and Terpene Profiles in Commercial Cannabis from Natural and Artificial Cultivation,” explored how different environmental conditions like light, soil, and available nutrients affected flower potency and terpene production. The researchers’ findings were quite surprising and challenged some common assumptions about hemp cultivation.

The Groundbreaking Study

Researchers began by acquiring genetically similar cannabis samples of the same cultivars from commercial growers. With the help of professional growers, they brought all the plants to maturity—some indoors under artificial lights and others outdoors under the sun.

The indoor plants were grown in a proprietary growth medium, while the sungrown plants were cultivated in a mixture of soil and compost under full sunlight. This setup allowed researchers to directly compare the effects of natural versus artificial growing conditions on hemp potency and terpene production.

To ensure the accuracy of their results, researchers prepared triplicates of trimmed, cured flowers and extracts from ground buds from each type of plant. The redundancy of samples helped to minimize any testing variance, providing a robust dataset for analysis.

A maturing Lifter hemp plant from Sunset Lake CBD 2022.
CBD-dominant hemp flower

Sungrown Hemp vs. Indoor Cannabinoid Production

The first area of focus was flower potency, which can also be thought of as cannabinoid concentration, or the weight of the flower that consists of cannabinoids. Given that hemp products are often marketed for their potency, understanding how the growing method influences this characteristic is crucial.

The study revealed that sungrown hemp expresses more unusual cannabinoids compared to indoor hemp. While there is still much to learn about how these unusual cannabinoids affect human physiology, their presence is known to enhance the entourage effect—a synergistic interaction between cannabinoids and other compounds in the plant.

Contrary to the common belief that indoor hemp is the most potent form of hemp, the study found that indoor hemp contains significantly greater amounts of oxidized and degraded cannabinoids compared to sungrown hemp. This finding suggests that sungrown hemp may offer a more desirable cannabinoid profile for consumers seeking maximum therapeutic benefits.

What Does Oxidized & Degraded Mean?

Degraded and oxidized cannabinoids can act differently when consumed. For instance, when THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) oxidizes and degrades, it converts into CBN (cannabinol), which is believed to have a more sedating effect than THC. This transformation can alter the overall experience and therapeutic potential of the hemp product.

Sungrown Hemp vs. Indoor Terpene Production

While cannabinoids are a critical component of hemp’s therapeutic profile, terpenes should not be overlooked. Terpenes are the aromatic compounds that give hemp and cannabis their distinct scents and contribute significantly to their therapeutic properties.

The researchers analyzed samples from both sungrown and indoor cannabis to study the effects of direct sunlight and soil on terpene production. Their findings supported what many sungrown farmers have asserted for years: sungrown hemp produces more terpenes and boasts a more varied, robust terpene profile.

Specifically, the study found that sungrown hemp contained higher levels of sesquiterpenes (C15H24), which are defined by their three isoprene units. These compounds are known for their anti-inflammatory, broncho-dilating, and antioxidant properties, making them highly valuable for both medicinal and recreational users.

More Unique Terpenes

Just like cannabinoids, terpene production plays a crucial role in determining hemp flower’s potential therapeutic value. Because terpenes contribute to anti-inflammatory, broncho-dilating, and antioxidant effects, their presence enhances the overall efficacy of hemp products.

Who Conducted This Study?

This study was conducted by several independent chemists from Columbia University without external funding from any cannabis companies. It was published in the Molecules Journal in early 2023, with the authors declaring no conflict of interest. This level of independence and transparency adds credibility to the study’s findings.

Why (We Believe) Sungrown Has the Advantage

At Sunset Lake CBD, we believe that indoor, outdoor, and sungrown hemp all have their place in the growing marketplace. However, from our perspective, sungrown hemp offers distinct advantages that make it superior in many ways.

Firstly, sungrown hemp is more energy-efficient. Growing plants under natural sunlight requires significantly less energy compared to maintaining artificial lighting and climate control systems in indoor growing facilities. This makes sungrown hemp a more sustainable and environmentally friendly option.

Secondly, sungrown hemp is better at sequestering carbon compared to indoor hemp. Plants grown outdoors contribute to carbon sequestration, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change. This environmental benefit is an important consideration for consumers who are mindful of their ecological footprint.

Lastly, sungrown hemp is more affordable to produce. Lower production costs can translate to more affordable prices for consumers, making high-quality hemp products more accessible to a broader audience.

In addition to these practical benefits, the study’s findings suggest that sungrown hemp is not only more potent but also offers a more diverse and robust cannabinoid and terpene profile. These qualities enhance the overall therapeutic potential of sungrown hemp, making it a preferred choice for many consumers.


In summary, the 2023 study comparing sungrown and indoor hemp provides compelling evidence that sungrown hemp may be more potent and beneficial than indoor-grown hemp. With its higher levels of unusual cannabinoids and terpenes, sungrown hemp offers a more effective and environmentally friendly option for consumers seeking the full benefits of the hemp plant.

As the hemp industry continues to evolve, it’s crucial to consider the environmental impact and therapeutic potential of different cultivation methods. At Sunset Lake CBD, we are committed to promoting sustainable practices and providing our customers with the highest quality hemp products available. if you need more information visit Sunset Lake CBD.


What is the main difference between sungrown and indoor hemp?

  • Sungrown hemp is cultivated outdoors under natural sunlight, while indoor hemp is grown under artificial lights in a controlled environment.

Is sungrown hemp more potent than indoor hemp?

  • Studies have shown that sungrown hemp expresses more unusual cannabinoids and has less oxidized and degraded cannabinoids compared to indoor hemp, potentially making it more potent.

How do environmental factors affect hemp potency?

  • Environmental factors like light, soil, and available nutrients significantly influence cannabinoid and terpene production in hemp, affecting its potency and therapeutic properties.

Why are terpenes important in hemp?

  • Terpenes give hemp its distinct scent and contribute to its therapeutic properties, including anti-inflammatory, broncho-dilating, and antioxidant effects.

What are the environmental benefits of growing sungrown hemp?

  • Sungrown hemp is more energy-efficient, better at sequestering carbon, and more affordable to produce compared to indoor hemp.

It takes a lot of energy to grow good, smokable hemp. Whether the energy comes from fuel, electricity, human labor, or otherwise, we should all be more aware of what it takes to grow hemp the next time we shop online for CBD. In this post, we’ll cover the differences between the energy consumed to grow indoor vs. sungrown hemp and where we get that energy.

What is Sungrown Hemp?

Sungrown (or sun-grown) hemp is grown and finished outdoors, planted in soil, and subject to natural sunlight. This might sound obvious, but “sun-grown” isn’t interchangeable with “outdoor.” According to industry terminology, sun-grown is a subcategory of outdoor hemp. It can be grown in pots, subject to light deprivation, and more.

Sungrown hemp reaches maturity in the ground under the full sun. It’s exposed to beneficial bacteria via the soil and is more resilient to molds and mildew. Additionally, sungrown hemp develops more terpenes as a natural self-defense mechanism against pests. These terpenes not only enhance the plant’s aroma and flavor but also contribute to its therapeutic properties.

The Energy Needs of Sungrown Hemp

If done correctly, sun-grown hemp is more cost-effective and less energy-intensive than either greenhouse or indoor hemp. Because sun-grown hemp utilizes soil, rain, and the sun— the latter two of which are essentially free—the price per milligram of sun-grown CBD is usually lower than its alternatives.

That’s not to say that sun-grown hemp doesn’t require power to make the best product possible. The following are the largest energy inputs needed for sun-grown hemp cultivation:


Outdoor farming requires fuel to power machinery, small engines, and farm vehicles (at least for now). Sungrown hemp is no different. Whether using a weedwhacker to keep the rows neat or driving a pickup full of bud back to the drying shed, you’ll burn some carbon-intensive fuels. The efficiency of these processes can significantly impact the overall energy consumption of sun-grown hemp farms.


While rainwater is free and preferred by farmers, especially during hemp’s vegetative phase, it’s not always the most reliable water source for your crop. That’s where irrigation comes in.

On Sunset Lake Farms, we use a simple network of plastic drip lines to feed water to our hemp plants when we experience dry summer days. Besides the plastic used to make the drip lines, we also use a small motor to pump water from our source to the plants. This system is relatively energy-efficient, but it’s still a crucial component of the overall energy footprint.

Drying & Curing

The most crucial phase of cropping out hemp is drying. If done incorrectly, mold and mildew can ruin your entire crop. To properly dry and cure sun-grown hemp, you need to store it in a darkened, humidity-controlled environment.

Maintaining the ideal drying environment takes electricity and a closed environment, both of which require energy and space. Efficient drying and curing processes can significantly affect the quality and potency of the final product.

Sunset Lake Farm sign painted on a large saw blade

The Energy Needs of Indoor Hemp

Indoor hemp can encapsulate a lot of different growing techniques, including hydroponic, container growing, and “sea of green”—all of them have their pros and cons. For this piece, we’ll use indoor cultivation as an umbrella term for hemp grown using artificial light sources.

Power Consumption

When you move plants that have evolved to grow outside indoors, you need to maintain a favorable growing environment and feed them with lights that mimic the sun. Not just one light, though. Commercial grow rooms require rows of lights per square foot of hemp— and that requires a ton of power.

According to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NPCC), the average indoor cannabis grow room (a commercial cultivation room set up for cannabis and hemp) consumes between 2,000 and 3,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per pound of finished cured material produced. Most of that energy goes towards lighting, temperature, and humidity control. Take that and multiply that by several pounds of hemp per indoor grow, and that power consumption piles up.

For reference, the average American household uses about 30 kWh per day, meaning that you could run your household for 100 days on the same amount of electricity that it takes to produce one pound of Indoor vs. Sungrown Hemp cannabis.

Water Purification

Indoor hemp is more susceptible to disease and infection because it isn’t regularly exposed to the elements. Therefore, the water that indoor hemp is fed needs to be more tightly controlled. Pumping in clean water and purifying it further can be both energy and water-intensive. This process ensures that the plants receive optimal nutrients without the risk of contamination, but it adds to the overall energy demands of Indoor vs. Sungrown Hemp cultivation.

Drying & Curing

Just like sun-grown hemp, you need to properly dry and cure indoor hemp to ensure quality and prevent mold and mildew. Maintaining the ideal drying environment takes electricity and a closed environment, both of which require energy and space. The controlled indoor environment allows for more precise management of these conditions but at the cost of increased energy consumption.

Indoor vs. Sungrown Hemp: A Comparison

While indoor hemp cultivation does have its pros, such as year-round harvesting and consistency, it also comes with a fair amount of energy baggage.

Environmental Impact

Is indoor hemp 18 times better than sun-grown hemp? No? Then it becomes harder to justify the fact that indoor hemp cultivation consumes 18 times more energy per gram than sun-grown hemp. This significant difference in energy consumption highlights the environmental impact of indoor cultivation.

Cost Implications

The high energy costs associated with indoor hemp cultivation translate into higher prices for consumers. In contrast, the natural advantages of sungrown hemp, such as using sunlight and rainwater, make it a more cost-effective option. This difference in production costs can influence consumer choices, especially for those who prioritize sustainability and affordability.

Quality and Potency

There is ongoing debate about whether sun-grown or indoor hemp produces better quality CBD. Sungrown hemp benefits from natural sunlight, which can enhance terpene production and overall plant health. Indoor hemp, however, allows for more controlled growth conditions, potentially resulting in more consistent cannabinoid profiles. Ultimately, the preference between sun-grown and indoor hemp may come down to individual consumer needs and values.


If you prefer greener, more environmentally-friendly CBD hemp flower, support your local sun-grown farmer. By choosing sun-grown hemp products, you can help reduce the overall energy consumption associated with hemp cultivation and promote sustainable farming practices. For more information Visit Sunset Lake CBD.


  1. What is the main difference between sun-grown and indoor hemp?
    • Sungrown hemp is grown outdoors using natural sunlight, while indoor hemp is cultivated inside using artificial light sources.
  2. Why is sun-grown hemp considered more energy-efficient than indoor hemp?
    • Sungrown hemp utilizes natural resources like sunlight and rainwater, which are essentially free, reducing the overall energy consumption compared to indoor hemp which relies heavily on artificial lighting and controlled environments.
  3. What are the energy requirements for growing indoor hemp?
    • Indoor hemp requires significant energy for lighting, temperature control, and humidity regulation. On average, it consumes between 2,000 and 3,000 kilowatt hours per pound of finished material.
  4. How does irrigation differ for sun-grown hemp compared to indoor hemp?
    • Sungrown hemp primarily relies on rainwater but may use irrigation systems during dry periods. Indoor hemp requires a controlled water supply, often involving energy-intensive purification processes.
  5. What are the environmental benefits of choosing sun-grown hemp products?
    • Sungrown hemp products generally have a lower carbon footprint due to reduced energy consumption in the cultivation process, making them a more environmentally friendly option.

What are the driving factors behind your CBD purchases? Is it the price? The potency? Or perhaps it’s company culture? We’ve asked Sunset Lake CBD customers over the years why they’ve supported our farm, and we’re thrilled to see that a growing number of folks are choosing us because of not only our prices and craft quality but our sustainable farming practices and sungrown hemp. So we’ve decided to start a new series to talk about what we do and how we do it.

Sunset Lake CBD has been harvesting sungrown hemp since our founding. We’re proud of the results and in this post, we’ll talk about what sungrown hemp means and why we do it.

What is Sungrown Hemp?

Sungrown (or sun-grown) hemp is grown outdoors, planted in the soil, and subject to the sun. That might sound obvious, but “sungrown” isn’t interchangeable with the term “outdoor.”

According to evolving industry terminology, sungrown hemp is a subcategory of outdoor hemp. “Outdoor” is an umbrella term that can refer to hemp grown in greenhouses, hoop houses, in the soil, in containers, and even subjected to light deprivation. Essentially, any hemp that isn’t grown and finished inside under artificial lights can be considered outdoor hemp.

Sungrown hemp, on the other hand, is exposed to the elements, grown in-ground with natural fertilizers, and subjected to the local area’s terroir. This means that the hemp plants are directly influenced by the specific environmental conditions of the area they are grown in, including soil quality, weather patterns, and the surrounding ecosystem. This exposure can lead to variations in flavor, potency, and overall plant health.

Benefits of Sungrown Hemp

As a conscientious shopper, you care about the quality and environmental impact of the products you consume. You choose lovingly-grown organic food over food grown under harsh lighting and filled with artificial fertilizers. Why would your hemp be any different?

Environmental Impact

Indoor (and some outdoor) hemp cultivation draws massive amounts of energy and emits nearly 25 times more carbon dioxide per gram of hemp compared to sungrown hemp. We can attribute this eye-popping disparity to the power needed for growing lights, airflow, heating, cooling, water purification, and more.

Sungrown hemp needs almost none of the above. It uses the elements, the living soil, and some organic fertilizer to produce more flower per plant than indoor cultivation. This significantly reduces the carbon footprint and environmental impact of the cultivation process. Additionally, sungrown hemp supports biodiversity by creating habitats for various plant and animal species.


It’s long been believed that hemp plants grown indoors produce the most potent flowers. It’s true to an extent—hemp can be manipulated into producing higher concentrations of a specific cannabinoid. But on the whole, sungrown hemp has been found to produce more cannabinoids overall, making for a more complete experience. This is because the natural sunlight and outdoor conditions encourage the plants to develop a broader range of cannabinoids and terpenes, resulting in a richer and more nuanced profile.

Recent studies and customer feedback have shown that the full-spectrum benefits of sungrown hemp can provide a more balanced and effective experience for users. This is particularly important for those seeking the entourage effect, where the various cannabinoids and terpenes work synergistically to enhance the therapeutic benefits of CBD.

Price Point

Because indoor hemp cultivation uses so much power to produce average per-plant yields, it’s usually more expensive than outdoor and sungrown hemp.

When properly maintained, sungrown hemp plants will produce more grams of usable flower than indoor hemp plants. This is because indoor plants are subjected to more limiting factors like light, root space, and nutrient deficiencies. Larger yields translate into lower prices for consumers once sungrown hemp farmers crop out for the season. Additionally, the lower energy costs associated with outdoor cultivation allow farmers to pass on the savings to consumers, making sungrown hemp a more affordable option without compromising on quality.

Potential Challenges

Just like any outdoor agriculture, sungrown hemp doesn’t come without its own set of challenges.


Unlike indoor cultivation, sungrown hemp is exposed to all of the elements and has been known to be toppled by strong winds and heavy rain. But what doesn’t kill hemp usually makes it stronger.

When hemp is exposed to the elements, it will put more energy into its foundation and immune system, much like how exercising helps us stay healthy and in shape. This natural resilience can lead to hardier plants that are better equipped to handle various stressors, resulting in a more robust and vibrant crop.


Pests are a part of life. Luckily for us farmers, pests also have hungry predators. At Sunset Lake CBD, we use predators (called beneficial insects) like ladybugs and assassin bugs to eat the pests that would otherwise harm our hemp. This is what we call an integrated pest management system, and it allows us to keep the pest population down while also helping us keep our hemp pesticide-free.

Our integrated pest management system not only helps protect our crops but also promotes a healthier and more balanced ecosystem. By encouraging natural predators and using organic methods, we can minimize the impact of pests without resorting to harmful chemicals that can affect the environment and consumer health.

Molds and Mildews

Yes, while sungrown hemp is exposed to and can harbor unwanted mycotoxins, it’s a myth that only outdoor hemp can contain mold. Indoor hemp is just as, if not more sensitive, to molds and mildews.

If you want to avoid harmful molds and mildew, you should get your hemp from a licensed farm that can provide you with certificates of analysis and testing to show you that what you’re buying is clean and safe. At Sunset Lake CBD, we prioritize transparency and safety by regularly testing our products and providing customers with detailed lab reports to ensure that our hemp is free from contaminants and meets the highest quality standards.

Comparing Sungrown Hemp to Competitors

When comparing sungrown hemp to other forms of CBD products on the market, it’s essential to consider several factors, including cultivation methods, environmental impact, potency, and overall quality. Here’s how sungrown hemp stacks up against some common competitors:

Indoor Hemp

Indoor hemp cultivation allows for greater control over environmental conditions, which can lead to higher concentrations of specific cannabinoids. However, this method is highly energy-intensive and often results in higher costs for consumers. Additionally, indoor-grown hemp may lack the diverse cannabinoid and terpene profiles found in sungrown hemp, leading to a less comprehensive therapeutic experience.

Greenhouse Hemp

Greenhouse-grown hemp offers a middle ground between indoor and sungrown cultivation. It provides some protection from the elements while still allowing for natural sunlight exposure. However, greenhouses still require significant energy inputs for climate control and can be more expensive to maintain than outdoor fields. Sungrown hemp, on the other hand, leverages the full benefits of natural conditions without the added costs associated with greenhouse infrastructure.

Organic Hemp

Organic hemp, whether grown indoors or outdoors, prioritizes the use of natural fertilizers and pest control methods. Sungrown hemp often fits into this category, as it relies on organic practices and natural elements to thrive. When comparing organic sungrown hemp to other organic options, it’s important to consider the environmental benefits and potential cost savings associated with outdoor cultivation.

You Decide

At the end of the day, your hemp preferences are up to you to decide. Do you prefer indoor hemp or sungrown hemp?

All of Sunset Lake CBD’s hemp flower is sungrown to preserve cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavor. If you’re unsure about whether or not our hemp is right for you, check out some of our reviews. Our commitment to sustainable farming practices, transparency, and quality ensures that you receive a product that not only meets your needs but also aligns with your values as a conscientious consumer. Visit our website for more information.


What is sungrown hemp?

  • Sungrown hemp is hemp that is grown outdoors, planted directly in the soil, and exposed to natural sunlight and elements, as opposed to being grown under artificial lights indoors.

What are the benefits of sungrown hemp?

  • Sungrown hemp is more environmentally friendly, often more potent due to the broader spectrum of cannabinoids, and generally less expensive due to higher yields per plant compared to indoor hemp.

How does sungrown hemp impact the environment compared to indoor hemp?

  • Sungrown hemp cultivation uses significantly less energy and emits far less carbon dioxide compared to indoor hemp, which relies heavily on artificial lighting, climate control, and other energy-intensive processes.

Are there any challenges with growing sungrown hemp?

  • Yes,  faces challenges such as weather conditions, pests, and potential molds and mildews. However, integrated pest management systems and proper farming practices can mitigate these issues.

Why should I choose sungrown hemp over indoor hemp?

  • Choosing supports sustainable farming practices, often results in a more comprehensive cannabinoid profile, and can be more cost-effective due to higher yields.