Marijuana Facilities: Hazards and Codes


Around the world, the cannabis industry poses complex operational requirements for both grow and extraction facilities.  Improperly specified or improperly installed equipment, equipment maintenance, and facility design can pose a number of hazards. All of these are important to understand for both property and liability claims and safety.

Indoor growth of cannabis requires specific equipment,  lighting, control systems and HVAC. It’s no surprise that indoor grow rooms have become more prevalent over the years, as they are protected from bad weather and can be more highly monitored and protected.  However, that control can come at a price if proper protocols and design are not followed.  Our experts have provided investigations and analysis on a number of incidents from origin and cause, to liability, fire investigation, mechanical or electrical analysis, and more.

Indoor Grow Facility Lighting

Plants rely on photosynthesis for growth, and proper lighting is essential for the growth of cannabis.  Indoor facilities require specific lighting to mimic the sun, such as:

  • Fluorescent – high energy efficiency, low heat production (can be tailored to use in grow facilities)
  • High-intensity discharge (HID) – produce very intense light, very high heat, limited life
  • Light-emitting diode (LED) – very energy efficient, low hear, very long life

All of these lights emit varying levels of heat from small to large and can require high electrical demands. If these lamps are too close to combustible materials or have a failure, it can be easy for a fire to start.

HVAC and Ventilation

Cannabis plants consistently pull water by transpiration through leaves and the evaporation of water adds to humidity in facility.  In order for cannabis to grow properly, it must have proper:

  • Ventilation – air movement to prevent mold and fungus growth and distribute heat/humidity
  • Filtration – prevent outside contaminants/pathogens from entering facility​
  • Heat – faster photosynthesis with an increase of temperature ​
  • Humidity – 60 –to 70% RH ideal for growth ​
  • Cooling – required where environment or lighting levels using HID are high​
  • Atmosphere – sometimes enriched with CO2 (1000-1500ppm) to improve yields​

​Electrical Failures

Electrical failures in a cannabis growing facility can be due to many factors, such as:

  • Ground fault​
  • Electrical overload​
  • Arcing fault​
  • Shock​
  • Electrocution​
  • Heat​
  • Fire​
  • Water​
  • Corrosion