With the marijuana industry poised for rapid expansion, NFPA Journal highlights safety practices, code gaps, inspection issues and lessons learned from the epicenter of the country’s pot business

September 13, 2016 — NFPA Journal®, the award-winning magazine and official publication of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), is creating a buzz with its September/October cover story, “Growing Pains,” which looks at the fire and life safety issues associated with the legal cultivation and processing of marijuana.

Marijuana is legal in some form in more than two-dozen states, with Colorado, Washington, and Oregon permitting recreational use. In November, voters in five states, including California, will consider legalizing recreational use, and voters in three states will consider allowing medical use. Sales of legal marijuana and related products are already in the billions of dollars annually in the U.S., and estimates put revenues at $28 billion per year if marijuana were legalized nationwide.

Against this backdrop, Jesse Roman, associate editor at NFPA Journal, traveled to Colorado to interview growers, inspectors, fire officials, and other stakeholders about the numerous safety challenges associated with the marijuana industry, and how the state has addressed those challenges. His story chronicles Colorado’s rapid ramp-up with the approval of medical marijuana in 2009, followed by the state’s decision to allow legal recreational marijuana use in 2012—events that sparked rapid growth in the industry before there were safety processes and guidelines in place. “Our knowledge of the industry literally started at zero,” said Brian Lukus, a young fire protection engineer who has led the Denver Fire Department’s marijuana efforts. “Meanwhile, the industry went from zero to a hundred miles an hour in an instant.”

 “Growing Pains” is a detailed look at the fast-growing pot industry and the challenges that exist for safety agencies scrambling to identify and describe hazards, develop guidelines, outline safety protocols, and establish codes and standards. As part of that effort, NFPA has created a task group—comprised of marijuana industry leaders, equipment manufactures, and fire officials—to craft a new chapter for NFPA 1, Fire Code, that focuses on marijuana grow and processing facilities. Once created, a separate NFPA marijuana facilities standard addressing all aspects of marijuana growing and processing could follow.

Marijuana legalization, and the potential for the industry to rapidly expand, are important issues nationwide, especially as voting season draws near. If you would like to speak with the author, NFPA Journal editor Scott Sutherland, or any of the experts quoted in the story, please contact Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy.

About the NFPA Journal
NFPA Journal is published six times a year and distributed to nearly 70,000 readers who work in architecture, engineering, consulting, design, contracting, government agencies, industrial services (manufacturing, processing, warehousing, petrochemical, mining and utilities), institutional services (health care, education, corrections and religious), transportation services (air, rail, marine and motor), commercial services (office, retail, restaurant, data processing, financial and telecommunications), and first responder/fire services. The NFPA Journal online edition and app is digitized and emailed to 50,000 members; and an e-newsletter with additional articles, features, and special online exclusives is sent out twice a month to over 50,000 NFPA members.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
Founded in 1896, NFPA is a global, nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information visit www.nfpa.org. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.

Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275