Montana lawmakers weigh bill to separate marijuana, hemp production


(A version of this story first appeared at Hemp Industry Daily.) 

Montana lawmakers are mulling legislation that would require medical marijuana cultivators to keep their operations confined to indoor facilities, leaving the outdoors for hemp production only.

MMJ growers oppose the measure.

A state Senate panel Thursday heard from hemp and marijuana growers about the bill, which aims to prevent cross-pollination between hemp and marijuana, the Independent Record of Helena reported.

The bill would require marijuana to be grown indoors in greenhouses or hoop houses.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Tom Jacobson, said that most marijuana growers already grow indoors to maximize year-round production, while outdoor Montana farmers could use hemp to diversify their operations.

Montana’s agriculture department also supports the bill.

But medical marijuana growers objected, saying the bill would impact the investments they have already made in outdoor facilities.

They also argued that the industry is more lucrative and has been in place longer than the state’s hemp program and shouldn’t have to change in favor of hemp.

The proposal would not grandfather marijuana cultivators already licensed to grow outside.

Montana voters legalized adult-use marijuana last November, which will make the industry more economically robust than hemp, according to MMJ producers.

Rules for adult-use marijuana production in Montana are still in development.

The Montana debate comes as outdoor marijuana and hemp farmers are increasingly coming to loggerheads over pollen drift, setting the stage for growing disputes in areas with thriving outdoor cannabis production.

According to researchers at Michigan State University, a single male cannabis flower can produce 350,000 pollen grains capable of traveling great distances in the wind.


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