MJBizMag March 2021 - 12

HempNotebook | Kristen Nichols
Catch My Drift?
H
emp entrepreneurs have made
an art of talking up the plant
to people who hate high-THC
marijuana. They're great at explaining
how hemp is nonintoxicating and
can accomplish great things for the
planet, winning over even the biggest
cannabis critics.
But the hemp industry needs a little
help when it comes to communicating
with state-legal marijuana operators.
It's a challenge that threatens to derail
hemp's renaissance before it really
gets going.
We all know that new states join the
marijuana industry every year. That's
great news for those looking to cash
in on business opportunities in new
markets and climates.
But the growth of cannabis
production at all THC levels-both
marijuana and hemp-is causing an
increasing number of conflicts that
only states can solve.
The Pollen Problem
Most members of the industry know
that pollen is a mortal enemy for
anyone producing flower rich in
cannabinoids such as THC or CBD.
Cannabis plants are the lonely hearts
club of the plant world; they crank out
the most cannabinoids and terpenes
when people remove the male plants
and leave the females unpollinated.
Because of this, it is crucial for
any flower producer to ensure his
States must take the lead in researching pollen transfer between marijuana and hemp
or her crops won't be exposed to
unwanted pollen.
This problem is not unique to
cannabis. Many crops can be damaged
by unwanted pollen or pesticide drift,
and the nation's land-grant universities
have spent decades conducting great
research on commodities such as corn
and soybeans.
But when it comes to cannabis,
there is precious little information
about how far pollen travels. Some say
10 miles. Others say 3 miles. Some
insist that pollen can travel 100 miles,
depending on wind and geography.
States in the Dark
Agronomists at Michigan State
University noted the scanty research
on the subject in a 2019 report that
called on state regulators to be more
forthcoming about farm locations
in order to reduce hemp-marijuana
conflicts.
Too many jurisdictions still shield the
locations of marijuana producers in the
name of security. However, decades of
state-legal marijuana cultivation have
shown that growers face nuisance
thefts but not the invasions by drug
cartels some predicted at the outset of
legalization. It's frankly silly for a state
agriculture department to have no idea
where marijuana is growing when it
licenses hemp cultivation.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture
helped fund an ongoing research
Instead of leaving it to private industry
to develop cannabis cultivars that won't
produce as much pollen, state research
institutions should prioritize pollen drift.
12 Marijuana Business Magazine | March 2021
project about hemp pollen drift
at Virginia Tech. But the federal
government is unlikely to throw serious
research firepower at cannabis pollen
drift when it can instead focus on the
development of low-THC cultivars.
This is where states need to step up.
Instead of leaving it to private industry
to develop cannabis cultivars that
won't produce as much pollen-or keep
guesstimating on setbacks needed
between male hemp plants and female
flower producers-state research institutions
should prioritize pollen drift.
States will find that, by doing so,
they're helping nurture two industries
at once: hemp operators and statelegal
marijuana growers.
Kristen Nichols is editor of Hemp
Industry Daily. She can be reached at
kristen.nichols@hempindustrydaily.com.

MJBizMag March 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MJBizMag March 2021

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