Home Interviews THMG127 – Clan Labs, Part I: Marijuana with Todd Burton

THMG127 – Clan Labs, Part I: Marijuana with Todd Burton


In this episode, we talk about marijuana concentrations and the growing process with our friend Todd Burton from the San Diego hazmat team.

Complete Show Notes

1:15 Introduction to Todd Burton

  • Joined San Diego county hazmat team in 1999
  • Responds to incidents alongside the San Diego fire department
  • Team goes on around 500 runs per year and gets 1-2 calls per day
  • Jurisdiction covers the entire county, which is around 4,000 square miles
  • Registered environmental health specialist – trained at the hazmat level
  • Sees a lot of trans-border action since they’re very close to Mexico

3:40 Background on the Marijuana Plant

  • Six billion-dollar industry
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is stored in the plant’s trichomes – looks like an elongated mushroom with a round head
  • Female plants contain the THC and resins, while male plants produce pollen pockets that pop and spread to the female plant
  • Cannabinoids are essentially chemicals and fall into two main types:
    • THC – psychoactive
    • CBD – non-psychoactive medicine with a calming effect
  • Bud THC concentrations:
    • Concentrations were around 4% in the 1990s
    • Shwag: 5-8% (low quality)
    • Mids: 10-15% (mid-grade)
    • Dank: 15-25% (high quality)
    • Hash: 20-80%
    • Budder: 95-98%

8:45 Growing Marijuana Inside

  • Usually 2-3 grows per year indoors
  • Basic equipment needed:
    • Hydroponic setup with sensors
    • Lights (sometimes pose electrical hazards)
    • Spaghetti wiring
    • Solar
    • Some growers hack into other power sources, which can be a problem
  • Nutrient reservoirs and drums:
    • Fertilizers – usually Mad Farmer
    • Rooting hormones
    • Compost tea
    • Recycling pumps
  • No special heating sources required
  • CO2 sources:
    • Gas cylinders
    • Gas burning – propane/natural gas = CO2 and heat
    • Often uses multiple propane tanks
    • Some people use dry ice or mycelium
    • Toxicity is around 1200 ppm for plant growth – non-toxic until it’s greater than 5000 ppm
  • Cooling sources:
    • Wall-mounted A/C units counteract any dangerous heat buildup
    • Extra cylinders of freon are used, including 410A (difluoromethane and pentafluoroethane) and R22 (chlorodifuoromethane)
  • Pesticides
    • Insects are a big problem when growing inside – especially spider mites
    • Most pesticides used on marijuana are non-toxic, like pyrethrin or neem oil
    • Some growers also use malathion
  • Mold
    • Biosecurity is important
    • PPE (minimum N95) – mold spores can be as small as 3 microns and can get into your lungs
    • Commercial inspections can’t go from one grow to the next for this reason

18:00 Growing Marijuana Outside

  • Nutrients
    • Growers use drums, large open pits, and tanks with nutrient mix, pumps, and housing
  • Pesticides
    • Carbofruan – pink, extremely toxic
    • Malathion
    • Aluminum/zinc phosphide = phosphine gas
  • Heat sources
    • Diesel fuel or gasoline used for generators
    • Propane used for heating greenhouses and cooking
  • Human waste is often used in fertilization

Have a question? Send an email to feedback@thehazmatguys.com or leave a message on our Haz Mat Guys comment hotline: 843-628-1484

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