Article by Peter Nolan-Smith, Daily Hive
Something stinks in the cannabis business, and according to Vancouver’s air quality planner, it’s the plants themselves.
In a recent Metro Vancouver’s Climate Action Committee meeting — a committee made up of representatives from municipalities across Metro Vancouver — Julie Saxton, air quality planner in the Planning and Environment Department presented a report and recommendations on the subject.
In the report, she outlines the steps she recommends the municipalities implement to deal with the odour as well as a summary explanation of the issue.
According to Saxton, volatile organic compounds (VOC), Particulate Matter, and ground-level ozone VOC are air contaminants that are emitted by cannabis plants. They not only contribute to the smell, but also raise “environmental and health concerns due to the role of VOC in the formation of harmful ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter.”
According to Environment Canada, VOCs are organic compounds with one or more carbon atoms with “high vapour pressures.” This quality causes them to evaporate quickly into the atmosphere. The agency says thousands of compounds meet their definition of VOCs, but “most programs focus on the 50 to 150 most abundant compounds containing two to twelve carbon atoms.”
Licensed producers are required by Health Canada’s regulations to filter air to prevent the escape of VOCs and odours. According to the report, however, local governments have concerns about the environmental and health impacts of emissions of air contaminants, “including volatile organic compounds and particulate matter.”
Odours are a protected part of farming
Not everyone agrees that the smell is obtrusive, especially in farmland that regularly deals with the smell of fertilized crops.
“Noise and nuisance associated with farming is actually not regulatable by districts that have farming in their land allocation,” said Dan Sutton, CEO of the BC-based licenced producer Tantalus Labs. “So if we’re going to allow it for cattle and an outdoor cannabis farm now has formed status and is able to maintain that farm status, the noise and nuisance that come from emissions regardless of Metro Vancouver’s regulations are actually protected.”