Resources & Insights

Ozone-Reducing Advice for Cannabis Businesses

January 9, 2020

Spencer Mahoney,
Executive Vice President

The business of growing cannabis involves emissions of what are known as “volatile organic compounds,” or VOCs. Makers of marijuana-infused products, aka MIPs, also emit VOCs in their processes.

More specifically, cannabis emits potent VOCs called terpenes that, when mixed with nitrogen oxide and sunlight, form ozone-degrading aerosols. High concentrations of VOCs have been linked to a range of health issues, from nausea and fatigue to liver damage and cancer.

Although no federal emission standards are in place for cannabis businesses, Colorado, along with many other states, has developed its own rules along with a list of best management practices for both grow and MIP facilities to minimize their impact on air quality.

Controlling Emissions from Cultivation

Carbon filtration is the best way to reduce VOC emissions, and can remove up to 98% of such emissions as well as reducing odors. You’ll want to invest in a carbon-filtration system that makes sense for your facility. A few tips:

  • Choose a filter with a high VOC removal efficiency.
  • Regularly inspect your carbon filters, and replace them as needed.
  • Inspect and conduct regular maintenance of your heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system.
  • Make sure that all operations are conducted within sealed infrastructure, and check regularly to ensure there are no leaks.
  • Have a documented system in place to respond to odor complaints.
  • Purchase a scentometer or nasal ranger to measure odor intensity.
  • Avoid activities that release high emissions during high ozone periods, especially in summer months and between 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Develop training for staff members to ensure best practices are being implemented as a part of the routine facility operating procedure.

Controlling Emissions from MIP Facilities

As we all know, the production of marijuana concentrates uses solvent or solvent-less extraction methods. Solvents can be made of very reactive VOCs, and the evaporation of those solvents is a direct contributor to VOCs in the atmosphere.

Recommended practices for MIPs include:

  • Regularly inspect all solvent storage devices to prevent leaks.
  • Conduct regular maintenance and inspection of the extraction system to ensure that it is functioning properly without direct solvent leaks.
  • Be careful to prevent leaks during the transfer of solvents between containers and systems at all stages of the production processes.
  • Never dispose of a solvent through direct evaporation or spillage, and ensure that solvent is always kept in a closed-loop extraction system or container.
  • Maintain an inventory of all solvent liquids and their use over time.

Why do all of this? Beyond following the law, there are plenty of good reasons, perhaps starting with reducing complaints from neighbors about odors. But, really, anything that helps shift the industry to sustainable and environmentally smart business practices is only a good thing.

Spencer Mahoney is Executive Vice President at CCIG and heads the brokerage’s Cannabis Practice. Reach him at 720-212-2051 or

CCIG is a Denver-area insurance, employee benefits and surety brokerage with clients nationwide. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We help you manage your long-term cost of insurance with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.

Also read:

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