If you’ve ever interacted with marijuana, then you know it has a very distinct, very identifiable smell. Whether it’s still in the ground or being smoked, marijuana produces a strong, pungent smell that’s sure to turn heads, especially given the legal landscape. If you are growing industrial hemp, which smells just like marijuana but won’t get you high, you may find yourself nursing losses due to thieves who think it is cannabis or even worse, facing federal charges from law enforcement who have confused it for cannabis.
So why does cannabis produce such a strong smell? The answer lies inside it, from a class of chemicals called terpenes or terpenoids. Different varieties of cannabis contain varying concentrations of terpenes, and they are responsible for the spectrum of smells cannabis plants are known to produce. But while these aromas may be welcoming to some folks, the nascent cannabis industry and the industrial hemp industry have had to deal with lawsuits and complaints about marijuana’s smell.
The wine industry, for instance, has complained that the smell coming from large scale marijuana farms are changing the smell and flavor of their wines. In 2015, a 10th Circuit Court in Colorado ruled in favor of a family who complained about the “noxious odors” coming from a cannabis venture next door. They said the pungent smell damaged their property value and the court agreed, allowing them to sue for triple damages under federal racketeering law. This set a precedent that private citizens could use federal law to topple locally licensed cannabis businesses due to the plant’s distinctive smell, and there were similar lawsuits in Oregon and Massachusetts.
This is an issue that could potentially cripple the nascent marijuana and industrial hemp industries before they have a chance to grow. A single plant can produce an odor strong enough to be smelt from meters away, so you can imagine what a farm or a warehouse full of marijuana will smell like. Although plenty of states have legalized cannabis for either medicinal or recreational use, it is still federally prohibited, and the last thing you want to be facing as a marijuana farmer is federal charges.
As more states legalize marijuana and advocates and lawmakers push for federal legalization, finding a way to contain marijuana’s infamous smell will be integral to the industry’s survival. And as the industry is expected to be worth $73.6 billion by 2027, whoever does it will be in for a memorable payday.
What measures would companies like Pure Extract Technologies Inc. recommend for managing marijuana odors? That is the million-dollar question!