Regardless of whether or not you feel marijuana should be legalized, growing and processing it can be hazardous. A recent article by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), “Welcome to the Jungle,” points out the need for building codes, inspection procedures, and standards to regulate this budding industry, in order to protect the health and safety of the employees and buildings as well. Currently, recreational marijuana is legal in four states: Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon. Many other states have ballot measures in 2016 for the legalization of marijuana for either medicinal or recreational use, which makes these regulatory concerns important to address.

The production of marijuana can cause many safety issues. Blocked fire exits, lights being hung too close to combustible materials, overloaded electrical panels, a lack of carbon dioxide alarms, and toxic chemicals in the air are some of the code violations fire officials are seeing. In addition, there are no standards for the equipment used to extract THC, and equipment that is installed incorrectly can lead to an explosion, threating lives and damaging the facility. The NFPA is currently drafting a new chapter for the fire code to help regulate the marijuana growing and extraction process.

I agree that growing and processing marijuana is a major safety concern for fire officials, building inspectors, engineers, and architects, but I also think we should be finding ways to save energy when growing weed. The purple lights used to grow pot consume the most energy of the entire production process. It will be interesting to see if the US Green Building Council comes up with a new standard for pot-growing buildings.