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If you grow cannabis, you know all too well that the plants emit a strong odor. Some strains are definitely more pungent than others. A large grow of the prime flowers can be quite obvious if there aren’t any odor-control measures in place. If you’re starting a cultivation project—particularly an ambitious one—it would behoove you to learn more about odor management and get started with implementing sound odor management practices.
The specific strains you grow are an important consideration. Cannabis strains can vary widely in the odor-production department. Consider the presence of extremely strong terpenes with some strains, and research acceptable alternatives if you want to keep a low profile with your cultivation practices. Strains like Afghooey, Hash Plant, Chemdawg, New York City Diesel, and other diesel strains can emit an extremely strong odor. This short list is by no means comprehensive, so research your strains thoroughly and plan carefully. Some top-drawer strains exist that don’t necessarily deliver a knockout punch in the odor department.
To keep your grow as discreet as possible, and prevent your neighbors and others in your vicinity from having olfactory overload, it’s imperative that you put a sound odor plan in place. Whether you’re growing for commercial purposes or personal use, the subject of cannabis odor control has become an increasingly relevant topic, particularly in legal cannabis states. Some cities have introduced new regulations that mandate commercial cannabis operations to employ strict odor-control practices. Companies that are unwilling to comply are easy to identify and face strict penalties.
In large pro-cannabis cities like Denver, the smell of cannabis sometimes hangs heavy in the air if you’ve got your car window rolled down during a drive through a warehouse district—often found along the city’s major freeway routes, which are full of daily commuters. The smell of skunky dankness is difficult to miss and quite specific to the cannabis plant. As might be expected, not everyone appreciates this odor, and due to complaints from city residents, Denver officials enacted strict odor-control mandates not only on cannabis companies, but on dog food manufacturers as well. Areas north of downtown had a rich cannabis-kibble aroma that was particularly noticeable during the summer months. With new odor-control guidelines in place, Denver was able to curb its cannabis reek and restore the fresh-smelling air the community desired.
Odor Management Plan
Regardless of the size of your grow, you must strategically evaluate and address your odor situation. If you manage or own a commercial operation, the first step toward full compliance is to ensure your location—or any future desired grow location—is zoned for cannabis agriculture. Even with a legal and compliant location, some locations are more ideal than others. For commercial grows, a warehouse or other large building off the beaten path in low-traffic areas is desirable for both odor issues and security reasons. Discreet is always preferable to obvious.
If you are an apartment of condo owner or renter, is growing cannabis allowed in your building? Landlords vary widely in their policies about home cultivation, but many of them are agreeable to the practice as long as no laws are being broken. Nearly always, however, odor issues are a concern. Complaints from other tenants could terminate a grow soon after it starts. The same goes for house renters and landlord contracts.
Homeowners don’t need permission to grow a personal crop, but they should follow every letter of the law to protect their real estate investment. Those who exceed plant limits risk neighbors detecting their activities and reporting them. The more plants, the heavier the odor. It’s a simple numbers game.
Fortunately, you can take steps to all but eliminate odors and the risks associated with them. Let’s examine some of the strategies you can employ to address this increasingly important aspect of cannabis cultivation. Whether it’s a commercial or home grow, there are products and practices that will help ensure your location smells fresh and clean.
Home Cultivation Odor Management
The simplest method of making your grow room air smell fresher is a simple home air filter that employs the use of a fiber screen to remove particulate matter from your room’s air. Also known as air purifiers, one of these simple devices can provide a sound contribution to your grow room’s air freshness. Depending on the scope of your grow, an air purifier may meet your needs for odor management. Some of these air purifiers have washable fiber filters, while others require filter replacement. The frequency of filter cleaning or replacement depends on the amount of time you run the device.
For more ambitious and effective air filtration, a number of portable air scrubbers use carbon as part of the air-purification process. One of these time-tested carbon filters will scrub your grow room’s air and remove nearly all of the terpenes, providing dramatically fresher air quality. Carbon air filters use charcoal pellets that do a remarkable job of eliminating odors as the terpene-rich air passes through them. These types of air filters are more effective than fiber filters and should serve your home cultivation air purification needs quite well.
Both fiber and carbon air filters come in a variety of styles and sizes. For home use, a freestanding model should do an adequate job of meeting your odor-control needs.
Air neutralizers are another tool that may help with home cultivation odor control. These products can absorb odors as well as mask them. Used in combination with air-filtration devices, these products can contribute to cleaner-smelling air and help minimize cannabis odors. Products by Ozium and Ona are popular for this type of air treatment.
Commercial Cultivation Odor Management
For large indoor commercial cannabis cultivation operations, whether it be for a warehouse or greenhouse grow, much more aggressive odor-control measures will prove necessary. A commercial-sized odor requires a commercial-sized remedy.
With the large exchange of air in a commercial grow, a massive amount of air leaves the room at any given time. Complete air exchange for most facilities will take place several times per hour. Combine this with circular fans blowing through the room, large quantities of soil particulate (unless the grow is hydroponic), and the high heat emitted from 1,000-watt grow lights, and the need for several environmental control measures immediately becomes apparent. Just like the importance of temperature, grow light selection, humidity, and overall air purification, the need for odor management ranks high on the list of mandatory operations protocol. To mitigate the profound cannabis smell, tube or can carbon filters work overtime to keep odors in check. These odor-control devices are commonly available at cannabis-specific cultivation centers. If your local center doesn’t have the appropriate equipment, they most likely have references to those that do.
While cannabis companies must address their odor control, several companies, fortunately, exist to assist with sound odor-management plans for warehouse and greenhouse grows. These companies are aware of cannabis-specific needs and are fully capable of providing solutions. Many are even familiar with local cannabis-related odor regulations.
As cannabis legalization and cultivation continues to increase, a good resource for commercial growers is the National Air Filtration Association (NAFA). This group can help both new and established cannabis companies understand the importance of proper air quality and sound air-management strategies.
Whether you’re a compliant and odor-conscious home grower or an ambitious commercial grower, odor control and management should be a relevant concern. Take the necessary steps now to keep your cannabis odors under control. Doing so will put you on the right side of the law with odor-specific industry regulations, as well as make you a good neighbor to people who live in your immediate area. A proper odor plan should be part of any cultivation operations plan, so take the necessary steps now to make sure you have a comprehensive plan in place before your grow begins.
Luis Cordova is a distinguished author, and renowned expert in cannabis cultivation, who possesses a Master's degree in Plant Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Science. As a valued contributor to highly esteemed publications such as Cannabis Training University and Maximum Yield Magazine, Luis has emerged as a trusted source of guidance and knowledge in the cannabis industry. Having written thousands of informative articles, Luis is widely recognized for his comprehensive expertise on cultivating cannabis, both indoors and outdoors.