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 stench hits him immediately, a sweet and skunky wall of cool air. “Smells like money,” Arnold says in his 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 accountable for keeping that pungent odor safely in the confines in the building: 39-year-old Daniel Gustafik. Gustafik has been 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 well before anyone could even conceive of Bob Marley-branded weed sold openly in sleek boutiques. He and his awesome company, Hybrid Tech, are now regarded as being among the finest in the game with regards to putting together industrial-scale legal cannabis operations. Previously 4 years, they’ve completed more than a hundred projects in 37 states and 2 countries.
Even as marijuana odor control procedures 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 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 concerning the “noxious odors” provided by a cannabis venture next door had sufficient grounds to argue the aroma had hurt their house values, and could therefore sue for triple damages under federal racketeering law. The ruling sent shockwaves from the legal weed industry, triggering similar lawsuits in Oregon and Massachusetts, and potentially establishing a precedent in which private citizens could use federal law to topple locally licensed pot businesses. That means that marijuana’s distinctive stink could sometimes be worse for your legalization movement than anything Attorney General Jeff Sessions did, as well as the continued success of state-legal weed is influenced 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 on earth. Before Oregon legalized recreational weed, a lot looser medical cannabis law was in place for quite some time, attracting inconsiderate growers used 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. In a meeting to determine what these rules would seem like in Clackamas County, one community member compared the smell to “skunk dipped in turpentine and gym socks.” Consequently, the Clackamas ordinance ultimately specified anything from the angle of exhaust vents to the potency of the fans utilized to circulate air. Lane County, where Arnold’s barn is found, ultimately made a decision to make use of the same language within their ordinance.