NPGA panel: Cannabis market ripe for development

March 8, 2022 By    

The cannabis market is unique – full of promise for propane retailers but complex due to differing state regulations and no federal oversight.

The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) highlighted the market through a panel discussion at its winter meetings in Palm Springs, California. The panel, moderated by NPGA regulatory affairs manager Twana Aiken, featured Bruce Swiecicki of NPGA, Jeff Stewart of Blue Star Gas and Lezli Engelking, president of the Foundation of Cannabis Unified Standards (FOCUS).

Photo of NPGA panel discussing the cannabis market

From left: Jeff Stewart, Twana Aiken, Lezli Engelking and Bruce Swiecicki are part of a panel discussing the cannabis market during the National Propane Gas Association’s winter meetings in Palm Springs, California. (Photo by LP Gas staff)

Stewart says a cannabis growing operation can use 10,000 gallons to 25,000 gallons of propane per year for applications such as power generation, hot water heaters, space heating and carbon dioxide generation. But as he points out, the market is high risk and high reward.

“From a marketer’s perspective, it can be significant gallons and also a tremendous amount of credit risk,” says Stewart, president of Blue Star Gas and vice chair of NPGA. “It’s the highest risk market we engage in.”

Engelking works in the area of voluntary-consensus standards. According to its website, FOCUS involves volunteers from the cannabis industry, regulators, the public and other stakeholders to establish cannabis standards that protect public health, consumer safety and safeguard the environment.

She welcomes the propane industry’s involvement, saying, “It’s critical we understand things from other industries in this space.”

With cultivators in the cannabis industry spending an estimated $6 billion on energy in 2020, Engelking explains, there’s “a huge need for your industry to get involved.”

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is developing a standard that covers cannabis growing and processing facilities, with Swiecicki, NPGA’s senior technical adviser, and Aiken both serving on the newly created NFPA 420 committee.

NFPA 420 will build upon the work started several years ago in NFPA 1, Fire Code, which addresses the fire protection aspects of growing and processing facilities, the fire protection association says.

The International Fire Code includes a chapter (39) about processing and extraction facilities with no specific mention of cannabis.

Currently, more than half of U.S. states have passed laws legalizing cannabis at some level. NPGA offers a cannabis legalization chart by state on the Member Dashboard section of its website.

The Propane Education & Research Council also offers information about how propane can fuel the needs of growers.

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at or 216-706-3748.

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