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 in the Missouri drawl, gazing out at row after row of make shift wood-and-mesh shelving, where 12,000 pounds of marijuana were lying to dry.
Following close behind, in colorful glasses and a tweed jacket, is definitely the cannabis engineering virtuoso in charge of keeping that pungent odor safely inside the confines from the building: 39-year-old Daniel Gustafik. Gustafik has been building out pot grow rooms for 20 years, designing novel solutions for everything 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 and his company, Hybrid Tech, are actually considered to be the best in the game when it comes to setting up industrial-scale legal cannabis operations. In the past 4 years, they’ve completed spanning a hundred projects in 37 states as well as 2 countries.
Even as marijuana odor control plan becomes increasingly mainstream, not everyone is 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 within 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 concerning the “noxious odors” provided by a cannabis venture next door had sufficient grounds to argue the aroma had hurt their home 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 can use federal law to topple locally licensed pot businesses. This means that marijuana’s distinctive stink could really 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 determined by 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 lot looser medical cannabis law had been in place for several years, attracting inconsiderate growers accustomed to the black market. The noise, traffic and stink annoyed locals who, consequently, annoyed officials making use of their complaints. When it came time to regulate adult use, some counties preemptively took a hard line. With a meeting to determine what these rules would appear to be 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 from the angle of exhaust vents to the strength of the fans utilized to circulate air. Lane County, where Arnold’s barn is situated, ultimately chose to use the same language within their ordinance.