A federal farm bill was passed last year making it legal to grow hemp in California. However, the country has not yet managed to write related rules of regulating production till now. One of the biggest issues concerning the same can be maintaining the hemp production fields. Mendocino County Board of Supervisors voted last month for implementing a temporary lock down on hemp cultivation.
Potential of CBD Oil Production
Federal law allows farmers to grow hemp provided the tetrahydrocannabinol or THC content of the plant is below 0.3%. Although hemp has various other uses in clothing and fiber industry, its main demand lies in the production of CBD oil or cannabidiol which is known to provide relief from pain and stress.
According to county agricultural commissioner Tony Linegar, farming for oil requires less acreage in comparison to fibrous stalks. This surely serves as a brownie point in Sonoma County having exorbitant real estate rates. Linegar is also expectant about Sonoma County becoming a prime producer of approved low THC strains in upcoming days.
A decree was adopted by Mendocino County wherein the seed sources of hemp could not gain approval of the state. Various doubts also existed concerning the unregulated seeds which can carry a risk of disease.
Problems With Cross-Pollination
According to Linegar, “cannabis is what we call a dioecious plant.” Flowers produced by female marijuana plants are grown by farmers for their THC content. However, the male hemp plants can pollinate their female counterparts if grown too close to each other.
Linegar pointed out that, “If they’re near a [hemp] farm that is producing male plants, particularly farms producing plants for fiber, that really devalues the bud,” while talking about marijuana flowers.
Erica Stark, the executive director of National Hemp Association, a Washington, D.C. based non-profit advocacy group also echoed similar concerns. She said, “The cross-pollination issue affects the hemp industry more so in the cross pollination between fiber and grain varietal of hemp and CBD varietals of hemp.” She also voiced corners about the fact that this can “greatly reduce the value and the yield and the overall profitability.”
The State and Country level government is currently considering the regulations pertaining to its testing and permitting. This will include clear demarcation of how far the marijuana and hemp plants need to be positioned from each other.
Linegar shared his opinion on the necessary separation by saying that, “I’ve read from three miles to 30 miles, with the consensus sort of being that 10 miles is a safe distance between the two crops to ensure no substantial level of pollen drift would take place.”
Stark feels that this problem can be avoided by planting the male and female seeds in a staggered way. This can cause the plants to mature at different time frames.
SB 1409 was passed last year to create a program pertaining to regulation of hemp in California. Details regarding the registration process of hemp producers and information which needs to be collected by the county agricultural commissioners from the farmers have already been collated. They are currently in pipeline for getting the approval of the State Administrative Law office and is most likely to get finalized within one more month.
According to Linegar, countries can either adopt the state policies or make their own local regulations. Although the potential market size of hemp in Sonoma County is unclear, CBD production is bound to lure in more buyers in upcoming days.