Growing Marijuana Industry Can Affect Design Professionals
Victor O. Schinnerer, leading company in Design Professionals Liability risk management practices, provided their insight into the conflicting laws between federal and state governments which may affect the construction and design industry including their insurance. They note that to date they have received only one insurance claim in the Schinnerer program with respect to the design of a marijuana facility, which has not been resolved, as yet.
Along with other industry experts such as attorneys, construction and design experts are reviewing the many unknowns in the nationwide growth of facility construction.
Jeffery Clay Ruebel, Esquire, wrote a paper (access limited to current policyholders and brokers) for Schinnerer’s Annual Meeting of Invited Attorneys which outlines design issues which relate to three primary facilities related to legalized marijuana businesses:
- “Dispensaries: Being a mainly cash business increases concerns for security that must be balanced with codes for safe egress.
- Grow facilities: These facilities create high electric demands that can affect neighboring tenants, possible asphyxiation hazards related to the use of carbon dioxide (CO2), fungi growth due to high temperatures and humidity, “nuisance” problems like odors or environmental contamination, and fire danger.
- Manufacturing facilities for infused products or “concentrates:” This process often involves the use of butane. In 2014, there were 32 reported butane hash-oil explosions in Colorado alone—caused by using unapproved butane open-blast extraction. There are also special requirements for CO2 extraction and alcohol distillation processes. Many jurisdictions now require engineering analysis of the extraction process, signed and stamped by a professional engineer.”
Schinnerer notes that “only recently has the industry developed a consensus on the design issues for the three different types of facilities used to grow, process, and sell marijuana. The grow facility must not only maximize plant growth, but must take care to avoid contamination and damage to the building. A design professional must also consider employee safety and minimize the impact of the facilities on the public.”