On a sunny day in October, Mike Arnold swings open the door to his barn storehouse outside of 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 in the 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 and a tweed jacket, will be the cannabis engineering virtuoso responsible for keeping that pungent odor safely within the confines in the building: 39-year-old Daniel Gustafik. Gustafik continues to be building out pot grow rooms for 25 years, designing novel solutions for anything from irrigation to lighting to humidity control in hidden sub-basements and also on off-grid homesteads a long time before anyone could even conceive of Bob Marley-branded weed sold openly in sleek boutiques. He and his company, Hybrid Tech, are actually regarded as being the best inside the game in terms of setting up industrial-scale legal cannabis operations. Previously 4 years, they’ve completed more than a hundred projects in 37 states as well as 2 countries.
Even while marijuana air quality plan becomes increasingly mainstream, not everyone is feeling chill about legalization. Pot reeks, and pot being grown or processed at commercial scale reeks a lot more. Some states and municipalities have included specifications about odor control within their medical and recreational marijuana regulations.
But cannabis’s federally illegal status creates all sorts of thorny problems. Last June, a 10th-circuit court in Colorado decided that the 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 through the legal weed industry, triggering similar lawsuits in Oregon and Massachusetts, and potentially establishing a precedent by which private citizens could use federal law to topple locally licensed pot businesses. Which means that marijuana’s distinctive stink could actually be worse for that legalization movement than anything Attorney General Jeff Sessions has done, 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 in the world. Before Oregon legalized recreational weed, a much looser medical cannabis law had been set up for many years, attracting inconsiderate growers used to the black market. The noise, traffic and stink annoyed locals who, consequently, annoyed officials using their complaints. Then when it came time to regulate adult use, some counties preemptively took a tough line. With a meeting to find out what these rules would appear to be in Clackamas County, one community member compared the smell to “skunk dipped in turpentine and gym socks.” As a result, the Clackamas ordinance ultimately specified anything from the angle of exhaust vents to the potency of the fans employed to circulate air. Lane County, where Arnold’s barn is situated, ultimately decided to make use of the same language within their ordinance.