How To Protect Yourself From the Dangers of Indoor Marijuana Grows

Indoor Marijuana Grows & the Dangers to Police Officers

Marijuana grows have been proliferating across the nation. A full one third of that pot comes from indoor marijuana grows. In a recent Canadian study, researchers found that law enforcement officers had suffered illnesses and injuries with grow operations. Some common effects reported included headaches, nausea, breathing difficulties, sinus congestion, sinus irritation and skin rash. In some cases, officers have been seriously hurt and injured and suffered injuries that could have ended their careers.

Proper Protective Equipment needs to be worn by officers dealing with an indoor marijuana grows like this

Getting Sick from Indoor Marijuana Grows

Several officers (and some evidence technicians and property room personnel) have been exposed to molds that are life threatening. A research team from National Jewish Health entered 30 illegal grow operations and found 40 percent of them had levels that would be classified as an indoor air quality problem. Officers have been suffering respiratory injuries from these molds that have put them in a hospital for months at a time. These officers weren’t spending all day in the grow. Some of them were merely responding to calls for service and spent minimal time and still got sick.

But, officers are also getting sick from toxins from fertilizers and other contaminants on the marijuana. According to NES, a company providing safety training for police officers across the country, an officer worked in a large grow (1500 plants) for nearly 5 hours. At the end of the shift the officer noticed a small finger cut. The following day, the officer was suffering from chills and sweat and over time experienced sore and swollen ankles, tight calves, sore joints, and muscle twitching. After visiting a physician and eventually an internist, it was determined the officer suffer pesticide poisoning.

Protective Equipment Needed for Indoor Marijuana Grows

So what can you do to protect yourself? You should not enter and indoor grow unless you absolutely have to. If you do enter, it is recommended that you wear protective clothing that would include a full face APR with a P100 respirator at a minimum, gloves (nitrile dipped gloves), Tyvek disposable suits, boots, and decontamination when you are done. I understand that this goes against “the way we have done things.” However, we can now show that officers are getting seriously sick from indoor grows. We must act now to protect those officers by giving them the proper equipment to protect themselves.


A common excuse I hear from police personnel dealing with marijuana grows is, “It’s just weed.” We all comment to each other about how much marijuana has changed over the years and that, “It is not your granddad’s weed anymore.” Your right! It’s not! They increased the marijuana’s potency by using harmful chemicals that are getting cops sick. Protect yourself and your crew and start gearing up when you dismantle indoor grows.

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Author: Keith Graves
Keith is a retired Police Sergeant and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area for 29 years. Keith was named as California’s Narcotics Officer of the Year and is a prior winner of MADD’s California Hero Award. He has years of experience as a Narcotics Detective and a Narcotics Unit Supervisor and is a Drug Recognition Expert Instructor (IACP #3292). Keith teaches both the DRE course and the Drug Abuse Recognition Course and has taught at the Police Academy. He has developed several drug courses for the California Narcotics Officers Association, California POST and California Colleges and currently consults POST on drug investigation procedures. Keith has held other assignments besides narcotics including Training Sergeant, Patrol Sergeant, COPPS Officer, Traffic Officer, and 20 years as a SWAT Team member and Sniper Team Leader. Keith has taught thousands of officers and businesses around the world about drug use, drug trends, compliance training and drug investigations. He is recognized as an international drug expert and has testified as an expert in court proceedings on drug cases, homicide cases and rape prosecutions. Keith earned a BA in Business Management from Saint Mary's College of California and a MA in Criminal Justice. Keith is the Founder and President of Graves & Associates, a company dedicated to providing drug training to law enforcement and private industry.

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