Metro Vancouver wants cannabis emissions treated by more than 95 percent

The regional government has received complaints about odours from cannabis production in Metro Vancouver.

Metro Vancouver has seen an increase in cannabis production and processing in the region. cyano66/Getty Images

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Metro Vancouver has released a discussion paper on the regulation of emissions by cannabis producers and processors.

The regional government is moving to control air releases following many complaints of unpleasant odours from industry operations.

The paper notes that cannabis production has the “potential to cause negative air quality impacts “, if emissions are “not adequately controlled”.

“Air contaminants emitted during cannabis production, processing and extraction include volatile organic compounds (VOC) that may contribute to the formation of harmful ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter through reactions with other substances and sunlight in the lower atmosphere,” the Metro Vancouver draft states.

Also, emissions “most notably occur during the flowering, harvesting, drying and trimming phases, during which high levels of a group of VOC called terpenes can be produced”.

In addition, power production equipment in cannabis facilities “generates emissions of nitrogen oxides and may emit particulate matter, depending on the fuel”.

Metro Vancouver’s draft paper proposes the capture and treatment of VOC emissions by activated carbon filters.

It also suggests a set of control efficiencies, starting with greater than 95 percent for trimming and drying rooms.

For greenhouses that use natural ventilation in growing areas and were operational before March 31, 2021, it’s greater than 70 percent control efficiency for growing areas until July 1, 2031.

After July 1, 2031, Metro Vancouver proposes greater than 95 percent control efficiency for the said facilities.

Also, the paper proposes greater than 95 percent control efficiency for other enclosed areas and facilities, including cannabis extraction facilities and on-site waste management amenities.

In addition, Metro Vancouver suggests enclosed structures for all cannabis waste management activities, including composting and waste solvent storage.

The draft discussion paper was attached to a report prepared by staff for the regional government’s climate action committee.

The committee meets Friday (July 16), and is anticipated to approve staff recommendation to proceed with new public consultations on regulating emissions.

The report was prepared by Arvind Saraswat, Esther Bérubé, and Laura Taylor.

The regional government began steps to manage emissions by the cannabis industry in 2019.

The district has conducted previous public consultations.

“Cannabis production and processing is potentially a significant additional source of VOC emissions in the airshed, which warrant similar levels of control to other regulated sources, to ensure that ground level ozone issues are not exacerbated,” staff wrote.

The staff report notes that potential uncontrolled VOC emissions from licensed cultivation in the region could range from 330 to 2,080 tonnes per year.

The volume is “similar to other regulated VOC sources in the region and equivalent to about one to five percent of total regional VOC emissions”.

“The VOC emissions from cannabis production tend to be odorous,” staff noted in the report.

The new round of public consultations is proposed to be held between August and November 2021.

“Cannabis producers in the region expressed concerns about additional costs incurred due to a new regulation but also indicated their interest in doing their part to protect the environment,” staff wrote in the report.

Under the proposed regulations, indoor growing areas greater than 200 square metres would be required to have an emission management plan prepared by a qualified professional.

Outdoor cannabis and industrial hemp cultivation will not be covered by potential regulation.

Follow Carlito Pablo on Twitter at @carlitopablo

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