With the industry facing strict and over-reaching regulations, cannabis growers need to put a lot of thought into choosing a location for their commercial grow site. There are tons of things to consider — zoning, neighbors, the climate, local and state laws — and if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for or exactly where to find it, you could easily find yourself overwhelmed.
So, what is the best way to go about finding the right location for your commercial grow site?
We posed the question to a group of professional cannabis growers who are members of the Growers Network private forum, and we’ve included some of their answers below in this first installment of our latest content series — Ask a Grower.
Read the responses:
Tasia Kelly, Santiago and Dunbar:
Cultivation is all about zoning, you need to look to your city first. Make sure you’re within no radius of schools and or other sites that would conflict with your operation, also in one of my experiences we had to spend a lot more money than we projected due to an electrical issue, which involved uprooting the street.
Gary Morgan, Moog Droog:
Finding a location for a cannabis cultivation facility depends on many factors. First and foremost, read your state regulations closely, and know what the state requires. Some things to look for:
1. Distances from schools, parks, correctional facilities, etc. How are those distances measured (door-to-door straight line distance or pedestrian route)?
2. Zoning – Check with the local municipality and determine what zoning types allow a cultivation business.
3. Utilities – Find out if the site has three phase commercial electricity available. For an existing building, find out the total ampacity of the service. This information is very important when considering startup costs, as installing or upgrading can be very expensive. Make sure you have a good water source available, and high-speed internet and telephone/cell service. Alarm and camera systems need reliable and fast broadband service. While doing these checks find out the rates. Electric rates can vary dramatically from urban to rural settings. Find out if there are any Time of Use (TOU) rates that apply. Some electric utilities charge a premium during peak hours and a discounted rate during
While doing these checks find out the rates. Electric rates can vary dramatically from urban to rural settings. Find out if there are any Time of Use (TOU) rates that apply. Some electric utilities charge a premium during peak hours and a discounted rate during off-peak hours. Some offer lower rates if you’re a heavy user, so identify what that amount of usage is.
4. Is there a local “Opt out” provision in the regulations that allows cities or counties to opt out of Marijuana/Cannabis businesses? If so, what were the election results? Was it a close decision or a landslide? Know this before investing, as some regulations allow a simple signature petition to bring up a vote to ban cultivation businesses. Get as much information about a particular location as you can before you commit.
5. Neighbors – How close are you to neighboring businesses or residential areas? These can be a huge setback at startup or down the road. It’s very difficult to control smell 100%, especially in very large facilities. The more distance you have from neighbors the better.
In the hospital setting where I work there are rooms that are specifically designed with negative pressure and anteroom attached to the patient’s room. The anteroom is designed for the healthcare personnel to don their PPE and prevent contamination of highly infectious organisms, such as tuberculosis. It is a buffer system that is critical for infection prevention and cross contamination between patients. Also, there are rooms with positive pressure for patients that are extremely immune compromised and can’t risk being exposed to pathogens.
This concept can certainly be applied to cultivation and there are some companies that are selling products for this purpose, such as: http://airstreaminnovations.com. Using anterooms for each grow room within a facility may be an important feature so that cross-contamination between rooms can be minimized. Concepts like positive pressure and anterooms, I believe, are important considerations to weigh when designing. This could assist in keeping the good bugs in and the bad bugs out.
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