Hemp in all its forms carries a strong perfume. Some call it skunky, others consider the scent of hemp and marijuana to be bracingly acrid, but for many, it reeks like a fetid mash of diesel and citrus.
In high concentrations, it can be overwhelming.
Prompted by the stink of a drying facility near Pittsburgh, the Department of Environmental Protection on Monday issued a cease-and-desist order to a malodorous hemp business.
It’s the first time the state has shut down a hemp business since the federal government legalized the mass production of the nonintoxicating plant for industrial uses, according to the DEP.
Patriot Shield Pennsylvania LLC, which operates an otherwise nondescript blue warehouse in Jeannette, Westmoreland County, was given 48 hours to comply.
Patriot Shield did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
“This enforcement action follows two notices of violation sent to the facility following citizen complaints and inspections by DEP staff documenting malodors, as well as the installation and operation of equipment without DEP authorization,” according to a DEP statement.
In other words, numerous neighbors complained for months. A DEP spokeswoman said locals said the smell was giving them headaches and causing nausea. When the DEP went to investigate, it found the pungent odor hung like a cloud over the community.
The agency found that Patriot Shield was using ineffectual generators and scrubbers. In addition, Patriot Shield didn’t have the required operating permits for those machines.
The DEP cited the business last month for violating the state’s air pollution statutes.
State law requires a smelly business to keep its stink within its property boundaries.
Because the warehouse is a standalone facility, the DEP took the lead on the action. If the drying operation had been on a farm where the hemp had been grown, the enforcement would have fallen to the Department of Agriculture, said a DEP spokeswoman.
Patriot Shield of Pennsylvania is owned by Patriot Shield Security of Colorado, which transports hemp and marijuana in several states.