After nearly one year of recreational sales in California, much of the cannabis industry remains underground. Stung by taxes and voluminous paperwork, only around 5 percent of marijuana farmers in the state have licenses. Sales of legal cannabis are expected to exceed $3 billion this year, only slightly higher than medical marijuana sales from last year. Tax revenues have been lower than expected, and just about one-fifth of California cities allow sales of recreational cannabis. The dream of a fully regulated market seems years off.
Besides the black market, the next big issue is smell --- that’s right old fashion dump stink! When Californians voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016 with a comfortable majority of 57 percent, lawmakers did not anticipate the uproar that would be generated by the funk of millions of flowering cannabis plants.
“It’s as if a skunk, or multiple skunks in a family, were living under our house,” said an anxious mother of two, whose home sits on the site of a former apple orchard outside the town of Sebastopol. Her neighbors grow pot commercially. “It doesn’t dissipate. It’s beyond anything you would imagine.” ( Her remarks are a typical reaction to the stench.)
The smell from commercial cannabis farms, which brings to mind a mixture of rotting lemons and sulfur, is nothing like the wafting cloud building in the cannabis grow zones. When cannabis odors are at their peak local citizens wear respirators; the kind one might put on to handle dangerous chemicals.
“Couldn’t stand the smell,” is the new noise — the message displayed on t-shirts. Communities are battling the stink, while the state nervously smells and waist for the wind to change direction; not going to happen.
Since 95 percent of legally grown product is outside, there are limited options for cultivators. With indoor cultivation, carbon air filtering systems are essential; most are not ineffective or too costly. Outdoor the smell floats in the air and travels hundreds of miles. Marijuana businesses donated hard dollars for lab equipment and other ideas to reduce smell omissions. The results are uneven, and the smell continues to annoy and frustrate.
“I can’t be outside more than 30 minutes,” said an annoyed grandfather at peak odor times when the cannabis buds are flowering, and the wind sweeps the smell onto his property. “The windows are constantly closed. We are trapped inside. There’s no escape.”
Since there is there is no objective standard for smells, local governments lack the means legislate cannabis odors is. Lawmakers did not anticipate the uproar generated by the funk of millions of flowering cannabis plants.
The smell problem was addressed by the founder of First Jersey Cannabis Corporation (FJC) long before it became an issue and predicted that if a solution were not founded outdoor cultivation would be restricted and possibly curtails in populated areas. Understanding the potential upheaval and costs associated with more restrictive legislation, FJC plans to maintain its cultivation facilities indoors and install state-of-the-art air quality technologies to target airborne pollutants: photolysis oxidation to neutralize organic odors and HEPA filtration to capture micro-organisms particles. A secondary system is also planned for the Egg Harbor City facility to mask the residual odors by sprays a curtain of vapor around the perimeter of the greenhouses. The vapor will be formulated with essential oils to offer a slight menthol smell.