Eleven states have legalized the recreational use of cannabis and thirty-three states have legalized the medical use of cannabis. And that’s not to mention the explosion of CBD and hemp manufacturers and retailers that are springing up all over the country, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill. The demand for new facilities to promote the growth and sale of cannabis is quickly spreading across the U.S. Below we’ll cover how and why construction firms are focusing on the cannabis industry.

Types of Projects

Commercial construction estimators and contractors have been especially busy planning and executing on many dispensaries and legal grow operations. Here are some of the special-purpose projects commercial construction firms are focusing on in the cannabis industry.

  • Grow Facilities – Built to provide ideal indoor growing conditions and productive working environments for staff.
  • Testing labs – New spaces used for product development, potency testing, safety screening, genetic services, cultivation science, etc.
  • Dispensaries – Places that market cannabis products for either recreational or medicinal use.
  • Marijuana Infused Products (MIP) Kitchens – Where concentrates, pods, tinctures, edibles, and lotions are safely produced.
  • Extraction Rooms – Places that use high-tech industrial machinery and chemical apparatus for cannabis extraction.

Advanced Building Requirements

This is also a highly-regulated trade that requires a specialized design-build process. If you want to avoid major consequences, then you really have to prioritize compliance and adhere to all of the building codes related to the handling, storage, and distribution of cannabis. Then, it’s important to focus on providing customers with a differentiated experience to keep up with the stiff competition. Here are some tips that can help you to win more of these projects.

According to Kathryn Settimo, NCIDQ of BIGGarchitecture, “Grow facilities must comply with many advanced building requirements and specialized mechanical needs. If these needs are not addressed early in the schematic design phase. This could result in having less grow space than anticipated.

We had a recent client that needed a specific amount of plants they assumed the building they purchased could accommodate there needs to be profitable, however they did not account for hallways egress paths and exits out of the facility etc. In turn the building was not large enough for their business plan.

Doing a Schematic design assessment early can ensure that there is enough growing space to achieve your growing goals. It also allows you to plan for future expansion.”

Highlight Successful Project Timelines

Since marijuana companies have to invest in state licenses, and adhere to specific deadlines for opening their operations, they are more likely to partner with construction firms that have a history of completing projects on schedule. The success of opening new locations is often dependent upon who opens their doors first, so owners should definitely explore ways to expedite the design-build process.

Know the Rules Inside and Out

Project teams assigned to building new facilities have to understand the state regulations and navigate the approval and permitting process along the way. Focus on hiring project managers with experience related to building cannabis dispensaries and cultivation facilities.

Showcase Secure Environments

Security features are paramount when it comes to building dispensaries and storing, displaying, and selling cannabis products. Although cannabis security regulations vary between states, some common requirements stipulate that businesses must take stringent measures to regulate access into areas containing marijuana and install comprehensive video surveillance systems around the buildings. In addition to enhanced security features, contractors and construction leadership should also plan for the appropriate infrastructure that cultivation facilities require such as artificial light and extensive watering and power systems.

Legal cannabis sales are predicted to reach approximately $30 billion over the next five years. Timing, security, and the regulations are the three of the most important aspects of building within the cannabis industry.


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