Marijuana Home Explosions Should Be a Call for Legal Regulation, Not Justification for Anti-Marijuana Sentiment

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I opened up my news feed from the weekend last night and found a flurry of stories from around the world discussing how an illegal marijuana grow destroyed a New York City home and killed a firefighter. Illegal grow-ops may resort to tactics that can be fatal in an effort to hide their activities, and without legal status they do not have access to education and equipment that meets safety standards. Of course, that is not how the international media portrays it:

Marijuana grow-ops spawn lethal explosions across the US

- Global News, Canada

Home-grown dopes: how marijuana labs are causing lethal explosions across the United States

- South China Morning Post, China

Marijuana labs spawn lethal explosions across America

– The Japan Times, Japan

All of these news outlets picked up the same Associated Press article. The gist of these news stories is that as marijuana legalization spreads so does the dangers. “…marijuana-making methods that are legal in many states — but can also be lethal.” ends the first sentence of the Global News story from October 1st. Then it goes on to broad stroke the dangers “Indoor marijuana farmers can create potential fire hazards…” and quotes a University of California professor as saying that Indoor gas use is a standard way to grow marijuana, and that by raising the CO2 level, it grows faster, as if this is a special evil way of growing marijuana when in fact C02 dosing is a standard and safe practice for many commercial plant growers including tomato and pepper growers.

There isn’t a single mention that the grow op in question was operating illegally. And sadly even the Cannabist, picked up this news piece without pointing out that the explosion was not in a licensed marijuana cultivation facility.

So here is what I would like the media to share, and anyone who believes that legalized marijuana has merit should share this information widely.

Marijuana is a plant. There is no reason it cannot be grown as an agricultural crop as safely as tomatoes are.

Natural gas, oil, and propane are widely used in greenhouses around the world without incident, just as natural gas, oil, and propane are used to heat homes in many parts of the world. Plants use CO2 naturally, they take it from the air and convert it to sugar to help it grow. Many commercial growers also increase the levels of C02 at certain stages of the plants growth. You can learn more about using Carbon Dioxide in greenhouses at the OMAFRA website.

In the 1920s there were dozens of stories of illegal stills exploding. Moonshine runners resorted to unsafe practices in an effort to hide their activities. But once prohibition ended and commercial legal operations came into existence, the dangers also subsided.

Legalization will lead to increased safety, better education, and best practices. Let’s stop the fear-mongering and deal with the reality. Cannabis as a legal agricultural crop will be produced safely both inside greenhouses and in commercial indoor farms.

Leigh Coulter is the President of GGS Structures Inc. and Niagrow Systems Ltd. GGS has been building greenhouses for growers around the world since 1979. Learn more at

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