Southern Oregon Marijuana Farmers Voice Concern Over Industrial Hemp

Industrial hemp is coming to Oregon, but — due to the biological interaction between hemp and marijuana plants — not everyone in the cannabis industry is excited about the particulars of where and how that’s going to happen. In fact, according to the Oregonian, a group of outdoor marijuana farmers in southern Oregon are arguing that Oregon’s hemp industry should be limited to the eastern side of the state, and at the very least should be prohibited in Josephine, Jackson and Douglas counties, where medical marijuana farmers have already established a strong foothold for the industry.

The worry is that the addition of hemp to the geographic region will undermine local marijuana crops, which are effectively ruined when cross pollinated with hemp.

“You don’t come into the middle of cannabis growing country and try to put up a hemp farm unless you don’t know about it, unless you really don’t know how far hemp pollen can travel,” said Casey Branham of Jackson County. “It basically makes the medicine worthless.” Branham is a medical marijuana grower who supports industrial hemp, but argues that it should be grown somewhere else.

Jackson County resident Edgar Winters, however, has plans to move forward with a state-issued license he received earlier this month to plant a major hemp crop on a 25-acre plot in the area. “People have misconceptions about industrial hemp,” Winters, who is also a medical marijuana grower, explained. Winters has received complaints and even personal threats from his neighbors, but is steadfast in his determination to launch the region’s hemp industry. “It’s a viable crop. There is no way we are going to be forced out of the county. I can tell you that. We are here to stay.” 

According to Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland), Oregon lawmakers are considering the situation following many complaints from local MMJ farmers (who have hired an attorney and lobbyist to protect medical marijuana interests) and are looking for a solution that would allow both crops to thrive.


Photo Credit: Don Hankins

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