The Marijuana Market: Self-Storage Operators Should Stay Informed and Prep for Changes

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By Kay Miller Temple

Voters are rapidly pushing marijuana-law changes, with 20 states already legalizing it for medical use. Just last year, voters in Colorado and Washington legalized it for recreational use as well. The Marijuana Policy Project reports on its website that it’s working on voter initiatives in seven states and bills in six state legislatures to create systems where "marijuana is regulated and taxed like alcohol."

These state changes impact almost every level of every industry, from banking to human resources. The self-storage business, with its attractive, reasonably priced space, may not be overlooked by those who want to store and grow plants. Could there be an opportunity to generate revenue from this niche? How should operators handle inquiries? For now, industry leaders recommend that they stay informed and stick to the laws in their state.

Growing and Storing Marijuana

Whether a self-storage facility is the right fit for the storage and growth of marijuana is debatable. Growing the plant is a convoluted process that requires many checks and balances. It can be grown with hydroponics and plant cuttings in soil made from inert materials, according to online sources. Plant growth relies on appropriate ratios of calcium and fertilizer, and water from a reverse-osmosis system that eliminates heavy metals is needed.

In an interview with “Business Insider,” Nick Hice, chief grower at the Colorado dispensary Denver Relief, said environmental control is "absolutely paramount." Humidity should be kept around 45 percent to 50 percent and temperatures at 75 degrees to 77 degrees. Temperatures are affected by heat from the 12-hour daily light requirements. Light exposure, not plant numbers, has the most influence on productivity, Hice said.

Production requires two rooms: one for the growing cycle's first 60 days and a second for the 70-day flowering cycle. Like the majority of plants, marijuana doesn't escape notice of the usual pests including spider mites, whiteflies and stem rot. Rodents, such as gophers and rats, are also attracted to cannabis. For self-storage facilities, storing anything that might entice pests is strictly prohibited, as they can quickly multiply and affect other units.

Even with climate-control measures, marijuana can be susceptible to spoilage. Several medical-marijuana webites suggest that storage methods should focus on protecting trichomes, the hair-like structures containing the plant's active ingredients. Glass containers and refrigerator temperatures are best since static from plastic bags retain active ingredients and frigid temperatures create easily-fractured trichome icicles.

Dried cannabis is susceptible to mold, viruses, bacteria and fungi. Aspergillus, a fungus that grows in decaying plant material, can contaminate marijuana and has been reported to cause disease in humans with weakened immune systems, such as those with cancer or organ-transplant patients.

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