Any time a new industry is developed, government entities and those charged with developing safety policies and protocols must review the nascent industry and develop recommendations for the public safety. Legal solutions to the problems inherent in the new industry follow from there. While there existed guidelines and a sound body of law to draw upon concerning the issues with craft breweries, the problems that arise with the marijuana industry are not so easily addressed, due to the conflict between the approach of the federal government and the approach of states in permitting the industry to develop. While there have been significant strides made in the technical aspects of marijuana facility safety, issues regarding legal and business questions appear to be in limbo and will continue to receive only tenuous resolution until the federalism issue is resolved.
Besides the political question, the industry has only recently developed a consensus on design issues for the three different types of facilities utilized to grow, process, and deliver marijuana to the consumer. Not only must the grow facility maximize the plant growth, but care must be taken 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.
Overall, while a growth industry going forward, marijuana facilities are still relatively new and design professionals must carefully consider potential – and unexpected – liabilities.