Marijuana odours a growing problem as rec market blossoms

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Cathy Brand at her front door looking out over the High Park marijuana greenhouse.

Cathy Brand was desperate. The freshly-killed skunk smell permeated everything in around her home. It was so strong, her grandson, nose covered with his jacket, asked how she lived here when it smelled so bad.
Brand dialed the phone and invited politicians and The Independent to come a “smell the hell I live in.”
The Lasalle Line woman live directly across from High Park’s greenhouses which grow marijuana for Ontario’s recreational market as well as some strains for medical purposes. And the smell coming from the marijuana is wearing on her and her family.

When the first cannabis plants arrived at High Park in June, Brand talked with company officials about the light pollution. High Park turns on the lights from  4 am to 9 pm, according to Enniskillen Mayor Kevin Marriott.
“I could come out in the middle of the night and I didn’t need the lights,” she says.
The company responded to her concerns and put up blackout curtains. Brand has been assured that will continue as the company moves into each section of the 13-acre greenhouse.
Brand also put up blackout curtains in her home, hoping to keep the light out, even if the sounds of the dozens of employees coming and going at night keep her awake. While the light issue improved, the smell kept getting worse.
Brand started keeping a log of the environmental impacts of the pot greenhouse June 28. She rated the smells on a scale of one to 10 but soon gave up the sliding scale as the smell got worse each day. “The budding period, that’s when the smell is the worst,” says Brand.

High Park tried to fix the problem, installing an air misting cannon. The misted essential oils were supposed to lessen the smell. Instead, Brand says she now had an added irritant – the essential oils blowing directly at her.
High Park has talked about installing an air filtration system, but so far it is only talk.
That has Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu perplexed. She’s been researching the Brand’s problem and has found the Enniskillen woman is not alone in her complaints about air quality around marijuana greenhouses. And Gladu says there is no reason for the troubles.
A Health Canada 2016 document for medical marijuana producers spells out the security measures that must be taken. It also says “to assist in the prevention of the escape of pollen, odours, and other particles, all exhaust air from your cultivation area and other areas within your site where cannabis is present can be filtered through appropriate air filtration systems. ”

While the Enniskillen greenhouse does not have a filtration system, officials say the facility was okayed by Health Canada. In an email to The Independent a High Park official says “High Park Farms’ odour control system was reviewed and approved by Health Canada before we were granted our license. We continue to work closely with Health Canada to ensure that we meet all requirements, including those relating to odour control.”

For more on this story, pick up your copy of The Independent

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