Pitkin County commissioners aim to snuff out marijuana smell issue
The Aspen Times
The apparent smell of marijuana wafting from a Basalt-area grow operation continues to linger, which has prompted Pitkin County elected officials to consider discussing the matter in executive session today.
County Commissioner George Newman brought up the stench at Tuesday’s work session. At a March meeting, neighbors of the High Valley Farms’ indoor cultivation facility said the smell has eroded their quality of life. They said the owners of the grow center, which supplies products to Silverpeak Apothecary’s medical and recreational dispensaries in Aspen, promised there wouldn’t be a smell issue when they applied for the cultivation license.
Silverpeak CEO Jordan Lewis said the problem is being remedied, but it hasn’t been an easy process.
“We’ve been aware of and working on the odor issue nonstop for three months, and because it’s a top priority for us, we will continue to work on it until we find a solution,” Lewis said in an email to The Aspen Times. “We have engaged the manufacturer of our current odor-suppression system and other engineers, consultants and scientists to help us. Like many of the things we are doing, this is the first time this technology has been applied to the cannabis industry, and there is a steep learning curve.”
The county’s license for High Valley Farms, which is located off Highway 82 near the Roaring Fork Club and the Holland Hills residential area, comes up for annual renewal in September. Commissioners at the March meeting said they won’t renew it if the stink persists.
Newman said it’s important to get ahead of the issue before the September renewal date.
“If we can get this on an agenda shortly, we can inform the residents who have been sending those emails and cornering me in the store,” he said.
County Manager Jon Peacock said the issue could be reserved for a commissioners’ work session, but noted it’s important to also discuss it privately with County Attorney Jon Ely.
“The board has the ability to call an executive session if you wish to get advice from our attorney,” he said.
Peacock said the smell is a “license issue, not an enforcement issue.”
But High Valley Farms might not be the source of the odor, said Commissioner Pattie Clapper.
“It’s my understanding there may be another grow operation in the Holland Hills area that may be contributing to this,” she said, adding that she didn’t know if that’s true or just a rumor.
Commissioner Michael Owsley cautioned that a meeting about the grow center’s smell could just rile up the neighbors who didn’t want it there in the first place.
Lewis also said that numerous alternatives are being explored to get rid of the smell.
“The original installation has been systematically modified to accomplish the desired results,” his email said. “Each modification requires days of testing and monitoring, and in between each, the system may be down for days at a time on a given house. We have made great progress over the last couple of months, and realize that there is still a ways to go, but are confident in saying that this will be addressed to the satisfaction of the community.
“Ancillary technologies are simultaneously being studied as a way to supplement the existing system as well. We are committed to exploring every environmentally friendly option available to permanently solve this problem. We appreciate the patience and support of the community as we mature through what is a quite public coming-of-age.”
On Monday night, the City Council listened to ideas for each old building. However, nothing laid out what the community space would actually entail — only aspirations and gathered community comment.