Cannabis, also called marijuana, is a psychoactive substance extracted from the Cannabis plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol is one of its active constituents that stimulates the human brain, strongly affecting the mind as it incites euphoria. The US drug enforcement agency (DEA) classified it as a Schedule I drug, meaning it is illegal for medical and non-medical uses due to potential risks to human health, particularly mental well-being.
Several states have revamped this law that made cannabis inaccessible to the public. In 2012, the state of Colorado was the first to legalize cannabis use. As of 2022, medical use of cannabis is fully legal in thirty-six U.S states and the District of Columbia. It is fully legal for recreational use in 18 of those.
The Effect of Legalization
These legalizations brought about an open demand for cannabis in these respective regions, which led to the need for mass and efficient production of cannabis. Additionally, a 2018 poll by Gallup found that 66 percent of Americans support legalization, and there’s proposed legislation in several states and the Federal government. This highlights a mainstream adoption of marijuana.
This opens up investment opportunities in the U.S cannabis industry, which is currently booming in sales and is poised to reach a global market value of 197.74 billion USD by 2030. The high demand for marijuana for recreational use results in a pressing need to expand production by increasing processing capacity and improving marijuana facility operations.
An Overview of the Cannabis Cultivation Process
Cannabis production on a mass-market scale is a complicated endeavor requiring many types of buildings. Most companies section their facilities into the three major stages–cultivation, processing, and dispensary. Growing marijuana at scale requires an extensive planting floor and an understanding of the growing conditions at different stages of its cultivation process. These stages are mother, propagation, vegetation, and flower.
You can grow cannabis indoors or outdoor. Growing cannabis outdoor is similar to growing any other plant. While this is effective, some challenges exist, like susceptibility to pests, diseases, and other uncontrollable natural occurrences. In contrast, growing cannabis indoors will control the humidity, temperature, light, and nutrients. This section will focus on the construction required for the indoor growing of cannabis.
In this stage, the plant remains in the vegetative stage for a long period. Many product “growth solutions” will help make this process possible. Keeping cannabis in its vegetative state can be expensive. It should be done indoors under controlled conditions.
Cannabis is propagated through cutting. Cuttings are gotten from healthy cannabis shoots, after which rooting is done. Cannabis can be rooted through several means typically used in plugging, plucking, or cubing
Indoor vegetation of cannabis takes between four to eight weeks, compared to outdoor, which can take twice as long. The vegetation stage requires the appropriate conditions and atmosphere for the plant to attain its full potential.
This is the final stage of cannabis growth. Flowering occurs a few weeks after vegetation, but it can be induced early with a little manipulation of the environment. The dried leaves and buds are referred to as marijuana.
Customizing the Cultivation Process
Furthermore, companies can design a unique cultivation process or adapt and improve existing techniques to meet marijuana production targets. For example, the aquaponic growth medium for marijuana is sustainable and increases the growth rate, while the soil is cost-effective but difficult to scale.
The industry also uses lighting conditions such as natural light in greenhouses or artificial lighting to foster marijuana growth. Artificial lighting offers more granular controls of the growing conditions. There are those facilities that use High-Pressure Sodium vapor (HPS) lights, while others use Light Emitting Diodes LEDs.
The number of plants per square foot and the size of these plants are also a consideration. Benching is the positioning of plants for growth. Single-tier benching is usually under HPS lighting, while multiple-tier benching uses LEDs.
Lightning, humidity, airflow, contamination, odor, fire protection, and security are all important for cultivation. The building management system and the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) should work efficiently and effectively. Their ability to react to and deal with heat buildup and humidity in small pockets of the facilities is very key to the success of the facility.
There are spaces needed for processing mature plants beginning with the harvesting of mature flowers, drying, curing, plucking, and trimming. Processing facilities need to be optimized to make these processes efficient and for packaging the product for shipping.
Extraction and Infusion
Separation of the active constituents from the cannabis plant usually has a dedicated space in medium to large facilities. Extraction facilities use specialized equipment to pull out oils and chemicals from marijuana plants. These facilities contain high-hazard rooms, called C1D1 rooms by the NFPA 70 because they often use natural gas or propane to heat products to release oils.
When designing extraction facilities, the rooms must meet the fire protection requirements for C1D1 use. Any material extracted from the plant is used in producing consumable marijuana products–including pills or edibles like cookies. A laboratory is a safe zone for the infusion process as it meets industry standards.
These are places where consumers get to buy the drugs for medical or recreational use, and should meet regulatory standards. For instance, some dispensary operations require special filters or HVAC systems to remove odors and chemicals from the air, vaults for storage of products, and rooms for packaging and display of products.
Well-built dispensaries have appealing aesthetics and a solid layout and operation flow. Dispensary impacts product quality which is a key metric for determining consumer satisfaction.
The space allocated to each department largely dwells on their operations. For companies focusing mostly on online sales, IT and customer service need much larger spaces. They also need to be fitted with equipment needed for arranging, sorting, packaging, transporting, and tracking products.
Some common and significant spaces include conference rooms, employee offices, locker rooms, shipping and inventory stores, quality control and quality assurance laboratories, and IT and security offices.
Factors to Consider in Constructing a Cannabis Plant
If you seek to establish a cannabis production facility, there are some crucial construction factors to consider long before laying the first brick. Here’s a highlight of five essential factors to consider before constructing a Cannabis plant.
- Regulation: the cannabis industry has regulations that differ across many U.S states and are absent in others. They involve state or federal standards encompassing building codes, zoning laws, pollution standards, site safety, and other legislation.
- Costs: Costs for a facility can range from 300 to 500 United States Dollars per square foot. It also depends on the cultivation methodology employed, facility location, and the facility’s scale. Knowing the business’s margins, efficiencies, and costs is essential for running profitable operations before committing to construction.
- Timeline: identifying the facility structure can help you determine an accurate completion time for constructing a cannabis plant and rigorously plan for production. For example, a naturally lit cannabis greenhouse construction requires less construction time than one with HPS or LED lighting. Setting up a CO2 or ethanol extraction facility also takes less time than an explosion-proof also takes less time butane extraction facility.
- Equipment: The equipment type and size are considering factors for an optimal cannabis plant layout design, and each processing machine has housing standards. For instance, cannabis facilities that engage in butane extractions should be able to withstand explosions.
- Licensing: A license is required to run a cannabis company and may be expensive depending on where the cannabis facility is located. Some states will require you to have capital investments and a lease on a property.
With existing and new legalizations playing out in favor of the cannabis industry, cannabis production facilities are in full gear to expand their market with new marijuana products and improve methods of consuming the drugs. The cannabis market is indeed in an advantageous spot for optimal growth and financial gains.