Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Californians complain about 'dead skunk' smell of pot farms

Mike Wondolowski sometimes wears a respirator when
outdoors to escape the smell. (NYT photo by Jim Wilson)
With recreational marijuana now legal, cannabis is a booming agriculture sector in California. But many who live near such operations often complain that the farms could attract crime, damage the land, and use up scarce water resources. And now, a new complaint: the smell.

"As a result of the stench, residents in Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, are suing to ban cannabis operations from their neighborhoods. Mendocino County, farther north, recently created zones banning cannabis cultivation — the sheriff’s deputy there says the stink is the No. 1 complaint," Thomas Fuller reports for The New York Times.

One Sonoma resident, Mike Wondolowski, told Fuller: "If someone is saying, 'Is it really that bad?' I’ll go find a bunch of skunks and every evening I’ll put them outside your window . . . It’s just brutal."

Many cannabis farmers are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on odor-control systems originally designed for garbage dumps. Cannabis executives say the plant is no different than other agricultural sectors that generate smelly waste, such as dairy farms or concentrated animal feeding operations, Fuller reports.

But neighbors' objections to the smell are only one of the problems plaguing the marijuana industry in California. "After nearly one year of recreational sales in California, much of the cannabis industry remains underground. Stung by taxes and voluminous paperwork, only around 5 percent of marijuana farmers in the state have licenses, according to Hezekiah Allen, the executive director of the California Growers Association, a marijuana advocacy group," Fuller reports. "Sales of legal cannabis are expected to exceed $3 billion this year, only slightly higher than medical marijuana sales from last year. Tax revenues have been lower than expected, and only about one-fifth of California cities allow sales of recreational cannabis. The dream of a fully regulated market seems years off."

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