Marijuana grows: Bad-as-meth-labs study based on clown science?
Officials with the Colorado Drug Investigators Association yesterday announced the results of a study that showed the potential dangers that marijuana grow houses pose to law enforcement officers and the greater community. Not surprising, the study found that having a sloppy, common-sense-free indoor garden (of any kind) can create borderline-hazardous conditions.
Big photos below.
reefer madness clown science study was conducted by National Jewish Health's Dr. John Martyny after several law enforcement groups became concerned with environmental conditions inside grow operations they were encountering. The study looked at 24 grow operations identified by police, in which officers had either torn out the gardens due to illegal growing or made contact with growers claiming to be medical marijuana caregivers. Several tests, including mold spore samples, were conducted inside and outside of the grows to measure how much mold was present and what kind of mold it was, as well as what -- if any -- other contaminants might be present.
At the press conference to announce the results of the study, Martyny said there is no set standard to determine severe exposure to mold, but the generally accepted practice is that anything over ten times the equivalent of outdoor mold levels is not healthy. According to him, eight of the thirty grows examined had an average mold spore count at that level -- and some had so much mold that the reading was literally off the charts.
A photo provided at yesterday's press conference.
"There's been sort of a general acceptance that any time the mold levels are ten times the outside level, we are actually having mold growing in the house and it's very likely to be causing or will cause health problems for people," Martyny said. "Especially people who have to clean that house."
You can read the entire report below; it's also posted on the CDIA website. But basically, the analysis found that the average spore count was higher outside than it was inside at five of the grow houses, and the rest fell somewhere around five times the outdoor limit. Data also showed an increase in Penicillium, a mold that can be particularly harmful in large amounts or to people with immune problems. That's nothing to laugh at, and it was one of the few points Martyny and company made about the dangers of grow rooms that holds water.
Dirty, nasty grows are no joke, and mold can really be bad for your respiratory system when you live in it. And frankly, judging by the pictures of the filthy grow rooms and data from at least one of the grows, I can understand some of the study-conductors' concerns.
Dr. John Martyny.
The pictures they showed of carpeted grow rooms, where some plants lacked drain pans and electrical cables ran through murky, half-filled ones, and vent caps were removed from hot water heaters to increase Co2 in the basement, were startling. Stuff like this is horrifying to anyone who knows what a clean, nicely run grow operation can look like.
And that is the one thing the study completely neglects to acknowledge: Clean home grows or legitimate medical marijuana grow facilities can be just as well-maintained as any other legal, commercial growing facility or home-hobby grow. Indeed, the data hints at that being the case. Note one grow with eleven plants, at which both the average and the range of mold spores inside were considerably less than outside.
Jim Gerhardt, CDIA spokesman, said twenty of the grows studied had a "medical marijuana component." One was a large warehouse grow containing multiple gardens, and the person in charge of it claimed to be with a dispensary. Another large grow was in an office building in Westminster and was being run by a group of patients claiming to have co-op status; it was supposedly headed by a dispensary owner from another town. Neither operation was deemed legal when investigators took a closer look into state paperwork. The majority of the rest of the operations were in single-family homes, and judging by the plant numbers, they were either flaunting the system or had significantly increased plant counts for themselves or their patients. Further, many of the grows were in communities like Longmont, Larimer County and Aurora, which have banned commercial medical marijuana businesses and commercial cultivation.
Despite a lack of licensing, local approval, code enforcement or any of the other things that communities require of legal medical grows in the two "commercial" sites in the study, Gerhard still believes the mold findings would be applicable across the board. "We think that those operations that were not in the residential areas would be very, very similar to any medical marijuana licensed grow operation in a commercial facility," he said.
Considering that the
propaganda report didn't include a sample from a single legal commercial grow site, this might be hard to predict from the data.
Continue reading for more about the grow study.