Study: Indoor Pot Farms Present Health Hazards

September 11, 2012

TVERT: Legalization will reduce the number of homegrown facilities

DENVER–Growing marijuana at home may be hazardous to your health, according to a medical study released Monday.

The study, conducted by researchers at National Jewish Health, concluded that homegrown marijuana operations can increase the risk of health problems for those living in the home due to chemical contamination from pesticides and fertilizers, excessive mold growth from irrigation, and elevated carbon-dioxide levels.

Indoor marijuana farms are becoming more common, thanks to the rapid growth of Colorado’s medical-marijuana industry and the increased success of law enforcement in cracking on large outdoor growing operations.

But growing marijuana indoors puts those living at the home, particularly children, at increased risk of “hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic rhinitis, asthma and other respiratory diseases,” said the report.

Those living in the same apartment building may also feel the effects of the cultivation operation, while mold spores can spread contamination undetected, potentially affecting future residents of the home or apartment.

“[B]ecause this is a constitutional right under Amendment 20, we cannot prohibit growing marijuana in neither private residences nor commercial buildings, both of which are dangerous,” said Ernie Martinez, president of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association. “The results of this study are far-reaching not only as evidence of environmental dangers for first responders, but to children and adults living in and adjacent to these contaminated environments.”

In 2000, Colorado voters approved Amendment 20, which allowed marijuana use for adults for medical reasons. Amendment 64, which is on the November 2012 ballot, would legalize recreational marijuana use for those 21 and older.

The research was funded by a federal Justice Assistance Grant through the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice conjunction with the Colorado Drug Investigators Association, as well as the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police and County Sheriffs of Colorado.

Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, said legalization would reduce the number of homegrown facilities.

“If the law enforcement officials behind this study are truly concerned about marijuana being grown in people’s homes, they should support taking marijuana out of the underground market and regulating its production similar to alcohol,” said Tvert in an email.

“There’s a reason why we don’t see people producing and selling copious amounts of alcohol out of homes in the suburbs. It’s because we regulate the production and sale of alcohol.”

The report recommends that first responders, such as SWAT officers, wear protective gear when raiding such operations and bring waterproof respirators.

The study was led by Dr. John Martyny of National Jewish Health, who tested 30 indoor marijuana grow operations as part of the research.

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