On the 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 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 responsible for keeping that pungent odor safely inside 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 everything from irrigation to lighting to humidity control in hidden sub-basements and also 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 considered to be among the best inside the game in terms of putting together industrial-scale legal cannabis operations. Previously 4 years, they’ve completed over a hundred projects in 37 states and two countries.
Even while marijuana odor control procedures becomes increasingly mainstream, not many 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 kinds of thorny problems. Last June, a 10th-circuit court in Colorado decided that the family who complained regarding the “noxious odors” coming from a cannabis venture nearby had sufficient grounds to argue the aroma had hurt their home values, and can 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 by which private citizens could use federal law to topple locally licensed pot businesses. That means that marijuana’s distinctive stink could really be worse for your legalization movement than anything Attorney General Jeff Sessions did, 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 several years, attracting inconsiderate growers familiar with the black market. The noise, traffic and stink annoyed locals who, consequently, annoyed officials with their complaints. Then when it came time and energy to regulate adult use, some counties preemptively took a tough line. With 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 anything from the angle of exhaust vents to the potency of the fans employed to circulate air. Lane County, where Arnold’s barn is located, ultimately made a decision to make use of the same language in their ordinance.