Cannabis, both hemp and marijuana, is heavily regulated by federal, state, and local laws. Unlike hemp, which was federally legalized in 2018 with the passage of the Farm Bill, the US government still classes marijuana asl a Schedule 1 drug. Though many states have legalized recreation and/or medicinal marijuana, there is a regulatory patchwork to navigate as you enter or expand businesses that focus on the THC rich annual plant. In addition to the legality of the plants themselves,cannabis entrepreneurs will find opening or expanding a facility comes with a variety of compliance issues in related to life-safety, fire protection, zoning, storage, and energy use.
Compliance issues in the cannabis industry that can be addressed through facility engineering
CE+C’s clients hire our engineers for many reasons including cannabis facility compliance to reduce the risk of costly and time consuming corrections. With more than 65 facility builds and upgrades and more than 6 years in this young and growing industry, we are one of the most experienced cannabis firms in the nation. We built that experience on top of years of building breweries, wineries, and distilleries; businesses with many elements in common.
We have seen patterns in the things that delay cannabis businesses from getting up and running quickly, things that keep cash flowing out instead of in. And we can help you avoid pitfalls including the following:
- Zoning issues – cannabis facilities typically have special zoning restrictions that originate in the local jurisdiction. This will differ depending on whether you have a grow or an extraction facility. Extraction involves volatile chemicals that cannot be co-located with a day care, medical clinic, or other places that might have concentrations of vulnerable people who would be difficult to evacuate in case of emergency. One of our past clients found this out the hard way, after having laid out money for a lab that could never be built.
- Health and safety issues – there are more safety issues involved than just extraction solvents. Grow facilities may choose to provide a CO2-enriched environment, great for plants, potentially deadly for humans, and manageable with engineering expertise. Fire protection, exhaust fans, and solvent storage are just a few of the things you need to consider as you bring your ideas into real facility.
- Energy use requirements – cannabis facilities can use enormous amounts of water and energy, and many jurisdictions are starting to require building owners to demonstrate energy efficiency or face large fines. The Northwest Power & Conservation Council estimated that grow rooms can consume 2-3000 kilowatt hours per pound of product. Our mechanical and electrical teams are efficiency experts and can help you minimize your costs without giving up the results you need, and can make sure you meet current requirements while also planning for more stringent codes in the years to come.
Five hundred words or thereabouts barely scratches the surface of the issues you need to consider, but we hope you’ve learned something from this list. Our engineers have both depth and breadth of knowledge are happy to hear about your cannabis facility and discuss how to keep it in compliance through knowledgeable engineering. Why not send us a message online or call us today at 206-385-3417? We would love to talk to you.