In addition to land use and zoning issues, the cannabis industry has brought about unforeseen building safety concerns. And these concerns aren’t going away any time soon. Some forecasts estimate that legal cannabis will be a $16 billion industry in the US by the end of 2019. The rapid growth of new markets and new investors is driving a flurry of innovation. Growers, processors, and retailers are rapidly developing methods that aren’t always addressed by the building code. Recognizing the problem, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) introduced a new chapter in the 2018 edition of NFPA 1 Fire Code. Chapter 38 addresses marijuana growing, processing, and extraction facilities.
A New Chapter
The new chapter is the first regulation to deal with the unique hazards involved in the cannabis industry. In addition to familiar hazards such as grow lights and fumigation of indoor grow facilities, Chapter 38 addresses extraction processes that are less widely known. Extraction processes often use flammable or combustible solvents, hazardous chemicals, high pressure, extreme heat or cold, and un-tested equipment to strip chemicals – most often THC and CBD – from plant material. The resulting concentrate is the base component in a rapidly growing range of non-smokable cannabis products including edibles, oils, lotions, and drinks.
While the new chapter provides a valuable resource for fire fighters, code officials, and building owners alike, it is hardly the end of the story. In The New Face of Pot, the NFPA explores emerging safety concerns in Denver, Colorado – arguably capitol of the legal cannabis industry. Innovation, research, and development continually introduce new hazards – and the Denver fire department develops new ways to mitigate the risks.
As the industry continues to see rapid growth in the coming years, Warehaus is prepared to address these new challenges.