On the 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 along with a tweed jacket, is definitely the cannabis engineering virtuoso accountable for keeping that pungent odor safely inside the confines of 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 and also on off-grid homesteads long before anyone could even conceive of Bob Marley-branded weed sold openly in sleek boutiques. He and his awesome company, Hybrid Tech, are actually considered to be among the best within the game in terms of assembling industrial-scale legal cannabis operations. Before four years, they’ve completed over a hundred projects in 37 states and two 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 a lot 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 a variety of thorny problems. Last June, a 10th-circuit court in Colorado decided that a family who complained concerning the “noxious odors” originating from a cannabis venture nearby 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 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. This means that marijuana’s distinctive stink could sometimes be worse for that legalization movement than anything Attorney General Jeff Sessions has done, and also 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 sq . ft . facility, outfitted in a mere 21 days, and operating in a county dmdwjs the strictest marijuana scent control rules on the planet. Before Oregon legalized recreational weed, a much looser medical cannabis law was in place for many years, attracting inconsiderate growers accustomed to the black market. The noise, traffic and stink annoyed locals who, subsequently, annoyed officials with their complaints. Then when it came time to regulate adult use, some counties preemptively took a hard line. In a meeting to find out what 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 utilized to circulate air. Lane County, where Arnold’s barn is found, ultimately decided to utilize the same language in their ordinance.