MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Yvette E. Blackwell-Gomez, a local attorney, lives near the Curaleaf farm in unincorporated Miami-Dade County. She said the marijuana farm is affecting her community’s quality of life.
Curaleaf, a cannabis company, has more than 30 greenhouses just west of Krome Avenue. Blackwell-Gomez and other neighbors have complained that the greenhouses’ exhaust fans, near the corner of Southwest 187th Avenue and Grossman Drive, are spreading the odor of marijuana.
Several people who live in the agricultural area, northwest of Homestead, said they used to enjoy peace and quiet. Now, they said, the constant “generator noise” coming from the greenhouses at the Curaleaf farm has become torturous.
“If you are smelling this every day, all day, it’s in your garage, it’s in your house, it’s in your car when you pass by, how would you feel? You would be offended,” said Blackwell-Gomez.
Stephanie Cunha, a spokesperson for Curaleaf, released a statement on Wednesday afternoon saying the cultivation site just passed a county inspection this week, and the facility is compliant with state regulations. Local 10 News is still working to verify who conducted that inspection, which considers odor emissions. Cunha claims the noise is not permanent.
“The generators that have been installed are temporary as we wait for state utility crews to upgrade our power source at the facility,” Cunha wrote.
Julia Bolufe grew up in the neighborhood. She said that at first, she didn’t mind when Curaleaf moved to the area in 2017, but that has changed. The farm, she said, has expanded.
“It’s not so much that they’re growing weed,” Bolufe said. “It’s that the smell is so strong. It’s overbearing.”
Camila Espinosa, who also lives in the area near the Curaleaf farm, said she has been sick of the smell and she needs someone to do something about it. Her children can’t play outside, she said.
“The smell is nauseating,” Espinosa said. “No one wants to not be able to go outside and play and be with their family and their dogs because of marijuana. It’s ridiculous!”
The residents said the problems have turned the Curaleaf farm into an inconsiderate neighbor, so they put up a large sign: “Curaleaf DOES NOT Care about us. We can’t live with this HORRIBLE SMELL & NOISE.”
According to Cunha, Curaleaf was awarded the 2020 Good Neighbor Award by Cannabis Doing Good, which connects cannabis companies with nonprofits to come up with socially responsible community projects.
“We are internally evaluating the neighborhood’s feedback and potential ways to alleviate some of their concerns,” Cunha wrote. “We look forward to continuing productive dialogue directly with our neighbors.”
The residents said they have contacted Curaleaf and Miami-Dade County authorities to discuss the issues calmly but to no avail.
“We just want it to stop now, today, right now! Not a day more,” Blackwell-Gomez said.
Miami-Dade Commissioner Kionne McGhee, who represents the area within District 9, sent a representative to the neighborhood to investigate.
Blackwell-Gomez said she thinks no one in government wants to touch “this hot potato” because the farm belongs to a multibillion-dollar company.
Curaleaf Holdings’ market cap was at more than $10 billion on Wednesday. The company operates in 22 other states, has 101 dispensaries, and 30 processing sites, according to the Curaleaf site. Its newest product is a THC beverage enhancer that comes in four flavors.
Curaleaf employs about 150 people at the Miami-Dade farm and 950 people in Florida, according to Cunha. The farm in Miami-Dade is one of nearly two dozen Curaleaf farms around the country.
The group of Miami-Dade residents said they are not against the cannabis industry, they just want Curaleaf to solve the noise and odor issues and to be a more considerate neighbor.
“They’re not doing enough to solve the problem,” Bolufe said. “I don’t feel like they’re doing anything, actually, to solve the problem.”