On a sunny day in October, Mike Arnold swings open the door to his barn storehouse outside Eugene, Oregon, and takes a big whiff. The odor hits him immediately, a sweet and skunky wall of cool air. “Smells like money,” Arnold says within his Missouri drawl, gazing out at row after row of makeshift wood-and-mesh shelving, where 12,000 pounds of marijuana were lying out to dry.
Following close behind, in colorful glasses as well as a tweed jacket, is definitely the cannabis engineering virtuoso accountable for keeping that pungent odor safely in the confines from the building: 39-year-old Daniel Gustafik. Gustafik has become building out pot grow rooms for 20 years, designing novel solutions for anything from irrigation to lighting to humidity control in hidden sub-basements as well as on off-grid homesteads long before anyone can even conceive of Bob Marley-branded weed sold openly in sleek boutiques. He along with his company, Hybrid Tech, are actually regarded as being among the best in the game with regards to setting up industrial-scale legal cannabis operations. Previously four years, they’ve completed more than a hundred projects in 37 states and 2 countries.
Even while cannabis air quality plan becomes increasingly mainstream, few are feeling chill about legalization. Pot reeks, and pot being grown or processed at commercial scale reeks even more. Some states and municipalities have included specifications about odor control inside their medical and recreational marijuana regulations.
But cannabis’s federally illegal status creates all kinds of thorny problems. Last June, a 10th-circuit court in Colorado decided which a family who complained about the “noxious odors” provided by a cannabis venture nearby had sufficient grounds to argue the aroma had hurt their property values, and may therefore sue for triple damages under federal racketeering law. The ruling sent shockwaves with the legal weed industry, triggering similar lawsuits in Oregon and Massachusetts, and potentially establishing a precedent by which private citizens can use federal law to topple locally licensed pot businesses. This means that marijuana’s distinctive stink could actually be worse for the legalization movement than anything Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been doing, as well as the continued success of state-legal weed is dependent on rigorous odor-proofing.
Take Arnold’s cavernous drying barn, nestled among rolling hills and maple trees. This, Gustafik says, is his magnum olfactory opus: a 5,000 square foot facility, outfitted in a mere 21 days, and operating in a county dmdwjs the strictest marijuana scent control rules on earth. Before Oregon legalized recreational weed, a lot looser medical cannabis law had been in place for quite some time, attracting inconsiderate growers accustomed to the black market. The noise, traffic and stink annoyed locals who, consequently, annoyed officials making use of their complaints. So when it came time to regulate adult use, some counties preemptively took a tough line. With a meeting to determine which these rules would look like in Clackamas County, one community member compared the smell to “skunk dipped in turpentine and gym socks.” Because of this, the Clackamas ordinance ultimately specified everything from the angle of exhaust vents to the effectiveness of the fans employed to circulate air. Lane County, where Arnold’s barn is located, ultimately chose to use the same language inside their ordinance.