Cannabis legalization and decriminalization is one of the most interesting topics of this decade. Over the last few years, more states are lifting prohibition either for medical or adult-use. And the results have been astonishing. In just the last eight months alone, Colorado has achieved $620 million in sales and sent $95 million to state coffers . But what Colorado has demonstrated is just the tip of the cannabis iceberg.
Cannabis is one of the North America’s newest and most promising industries. It is now medically legal in 29 states and recreationally legal in 8 states, with even more allowing CBD for certain medical conditions. A recent poll also shows that close to 60% of American support legalized cannabis and Canada is taking cannabis even further, introducing legislation to federally legalize the plant in 2018. All of this indicates a trend away from prohibition toward a regulated market. And yet, some are still wary of cannabis.
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As cultivators and owners know, building out a commercial sized facility takes a lot of time, patience and money but can be extremely lucrative in the long run. Large-scale commercial facilities that are up and running are generating huge profits, mostly in cash. But this type of revenue takes time. To get to a place where a facility can sustain itself financially, owners first must go through the long and expensive process of licensing, permitting, obtaining land and/or buildings and, of course, choosing lighting and environmental control.
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Last November, the City of Denver released new regulations concerning odor control for cannabis cultivation facilities. Previously, Denver’s Department of Environmental Health (DEH) only mandated odor control plans for facilities that received a certain number of complaints but that is no longer the case. Both existing facilities, as well as new ones, will require an odor control plan going forward or risk financial penalties for non-compliance.
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Biosecurity is quickly becoming one of the most important topics in the cannabis industry. Testing standards are getting stricter and rates of tainted crops are sky rocketing, causing supply shortages and significant financial blows to cultivators all over the continent. Crops with mold or fungus can be deadly to consumers—especially those with lower immune systems, like many medical users. The alternative for many cultivators is to use chemicals like pesticides and fungicides to combat mold but unfortunately, these still pose a threat to consumers, placing cultivators in a catch-22 situation. Should you risk mold and fungus by avoiding chemicals? Or should you introduce potentially harmful chemicals to your plants to ensure against mold and fungus? Neither is a good option. Not only do these options put consumers at risk but, with increased regulation, they also put cultivators at risk of losing significant profits from having to dispose of sub-par harvests.
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Right now, cannabis in the United States is a hotly debated topic. Many people are anti-prohibition citing medicinal uses, economic growth, job-creation and removing its incentive from underworld criminals as reasons for creating a legitimate, regulated cannabis industry. Others see negative impacts of legalization, believing that cannabis is harmful and prohibition only keeps citizens safe. But more and more, the consensus is moving toward the former with a new poll suggesting 93% of voters support medical marijuana and 59% support full legalization. Elections in November highlighted this trend as four states adopted medical and another four voted in favor of adult-use programs. Now a record 60% of the United States’ population live in a state that has legalized in some form.
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Last week, Surna headed to Seattle for CannaCon for the second time. The energy at the show, and in Seattle in general, was great and we were excited to see new and familiar faces!
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Here at Surna, we do a lot of things. But there is one thing at the core of what we do that we don’t talk about much-- our engineering services. Setting up a commercial cannabis cultivation facility inevitably involves engineers-- to help design the space and pick out equipment, among other things. We’re very fortunate to have an amazing staff of experienced and smart people to design our equipment, design our clients’ facilities and help maintain products after they’re up and running. So, I decided to sit down with Marc Nathan, Surna's engineering manager, to get his thoughts on the unique nature of engineering for cannabis cultivation facilities.
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The temperature of a cultivation room plays a large role in determining how plants grow and the quality of the final yield. For this reason, it is important to have a reliable climate control system and frequently check the temperature of each cultivation room. However, it is very easy to incorrectly check the temperatures of these rooms.
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When looking to cool a commercial environment there are two types of cooling that should be considered: comfort cooling and process cooling. Comfort cooling is the same type of cooling system that can be found in residential houses and office buildings. It is designed to cool spaces primarily to create comfortable temperatures for occupants.
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