New England, The New Frontier
by Mark R. Richards, PE, Nortech Systems
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Despite strict government regulation, cannabis is popular in many states. As yet, medical marijuana is legal in 29 states (plus DC). Nine of these states (plus DC) allow recreational cannabis. The most recent states to permit recreational cannabis include Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont; half of New England’s states. Connecticut and Rhode Island are top candidates for recreational legalization as both states are reluctant to lose tax dollars to their neighbor (MA). The last New England state, New Hampshire, will likely succumb to peer pressure. However, its current governor opposes recreational cannabis.
With the recent legalization of recreation cannabis in Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont, New England enters a new frontier. Nortech Systems (Nortech) has helped companies successfully navigate this uncharted landscape, while others struggle. Companies have wasted large sums of money by hiring consultants who don’t understand the nuances of cannabis. Poor consultants are absent knowledge of site-specific hazards and unable to employ proper safeguards. They create inefficient layouts that lack the foresight of future regulation. This wastes time and money. Superior consultants create safe, efficient layouts that are easily understood by authorities.

As noted, cannabis is a new but rapidly expanding industry in New England. As the industry matures, companies must optimize efficiencies to succeed. Over time, retail prices will drop as the market becomes saturated with suppliers. Obviously, companies with higher production costs are at a disadvantage. An experienced consultant can decrease production costs by minimizing overhead and labor.

A building’s construction affects overhead, which impacts production costs. While grow and extraction processes are site-specific, the largest cost of operation is typically HVAC and lighting. Various solutions exist to decrease such costs, including the use of LED lights, vertical shelving systems, and movable racks. LED lights are energy efficient. They also produce less heat than traditional lights, which decreases cooling requirements. Vertical shelving systems and movable racks are space savers. Thus, productivity is increased.

A building’s layout affects the cost of labor, which impacts production costs. Rooms should be located to promote an efficient workflow. Clone rooms should be next to mother rooms, dry rooms should be next to trim rooms, etc. It’s costly to situate these rooms at opposite ends of a building and make employees travel more than needed. Automating processes can also reduce the cost of labor. Irrigation (drip lines, hydroponics, etc.) is one such method of automation. It should be considered to reduce the cost of watering by hand.

In conclusion, cannabis is a new but rapidly expanding industry in New England. As the industry matures, companies must optimize efficiencies to succeed. This article mentions a few ways a company can increase efficiencies. However, the breadth of this topic is wide and must be catered to individual facilities. Thus, an experienced consultant should be employed to lower production costs. Professionals who understand the nuances of cannabis can create safe, efficient layouts that are easily understood by authorities and include foresight for future regulation.

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