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Colorado sniffs out a new problem with pot grow operations

DENVER - Big changes are coming for Denver businesses that cause odors, specifically marijuana grow operations. The Denver City Council has passed new rules regulating the smell.

One area the Department of Environmental Health said generates the most complaints is North Denver. The organization in Denver receives about 100 formal complaints a year, reports CBS Denver.

"A lot of it is marijuana," said Department of Environmental Health spokesman Gregg Thomas.

Thomas said since the legalization of marijuana, the department has been looking at new ways to regulate air pollution. Now that the city council has made its decision, Thomas said they finally have the ground work.

"It's partly a brave new world we are entering into," said Thomas.

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In the past, health experts used devices like the Nasal Ranger to detect the intensity of an odor during a possible violation.

"We understand where the complaints have come from over the years," said Thomas.

The new regulations include an expanded definition of who can complain about an odor and also increases the time from 12 hours to 30 days, in which five complaints must be received to trigger enforcement. The biggest change requires certain industries, including marijuana, to develop and submit odor control plans to the city.

"I'm confident that odors will be minimized once everybody is up and running with their plans," said Thomas.

Thomas said right now, roughly 55 percent of grow operations in Denver already have odor mitigation systems in place. He hopes by next summer, that number will grow to 100.

"I would caution people to be realistic," said Thomas. "It doesn't mean that there will be zero odors."

Once finalized the new plan will go before the Colorado Department of Health and Environment board and likely start going into effect by the end of the year.