Agriculture And Medical Marijuana In Maryland: An Industry Perspective

marijuana_webFor the first time in a long time, I’m not representing Bell Nursery as I share this.

While I remain fully involved in Bell, I’ve found myself pulled into the dialogue that our legislature in Maryland has been having on medical marijuana.

Growing up in an ag family, and participating over many years in various industry organizations, I knew it would be worth learning more about the future of this product and its use as there was rare cross-aisle support for its development here. I knew that agriculture collectively remains Maryland’s largest employer, and farm diversification is something that I’ve felt strongly about since watching tobacco growers of many generations be legislated out of existence a decade ago. These families had tilled the land in some cases since the late 1600s. Unfortunately they had not diversified their income prior to their only cash crop being essentially outlawed.

Following a review of the draft legislation, it was apparent that the evolution of much of the marijuana growing industry was getting ready to be the only type of growing considered by Maryland in its quest for Medical Marijuana production — that is, artificially lit, heated and cooled warehouses.

As it stands now, production of medical marijuana is being discussed only for warehouse or indoor-style production, NOT traditional agriculture or greenhouses. That’s a real problem for future agricultural diversity.

Greenhouses Are Ideal For Medical Marijuana Production

Knowing a number of people who have epilepsy, and hearing about the benefits of medical marijuana with cancer patients, arthritis and other common health problems, really got me and my former partner Mike (McCarthy) interested in the subject.

Once we determined that it would be crucial to move quickly to try and affect change in the committees creating the legislation, we knew we had to make concise points related to things that typically matter to the legislators. We were able to get the attention of key delegates and state senators who have rural districts where agriculturists are the majority of their constituents. We explained that greenhouses in particular are already well-suited to this type of production and are more energy efficient than growing indoors under lights, and that the farm community already understands plant physiology. We talked about agricultural environmental stewardship, as well as our collective ability to build secure structures relatively quickly. As greenhouse operations are considered a farm in Maryland, permitting is less cumbersome.

In the past few days, the Legislature has gone from proposing just 10 producers to the current Senate version calling for 94 (two per legislative district). We expect this count, which also ties to dispensers, will be dramatically reduced. A vote on the medical marijuana law is expected prior to this year’s session adjournment.

We believe that whatever your personal views on the topic, it would be difficult to watch a new growing industry literally pop up in more urban areas, as farm families need continued diversification opportunities to remain fiscally healthy. Hopefully, some of what we have been pursuing will make it into the Bill language and agriculture will have a seat at the table as the regulations are further refined.

For clarity, as I’ve received a number of calls since participating in some televised news spots, this is not anything that Bell Nursery is pursuing. But this is something we expect can be positive for our collective industry.

Legislative Update – 5/9/14

Since this writing, the Maryland legislature has adjourned and passed the medical marijuana legislation. As a result of the efforts, added to the legislation in conference committee was text that favors production in agricultural zoned land, and there were two seats added to the permanent Marijuanna Commission specifically nominated by the Secretary of Agriculture. The number of authorized growers and dispensers has been settled at 15. It is unknown what demand might be but it is now well understood that agricultural producers now have the opportunity to compete for the business.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

More From Grow Initiative...

February 17, 2017

How to Keep Customers Coming Back With Top-Notch Service

A recent article on Forbes.com outlines seven ways organizations can take their customer service from good to great and beyond.

Read More

January 27, 2017

Why Greenhouse Growers Must Know Their Costs to Stay Competitive

Tom Dudek, Senior Educator at Michigan State University Extension, says greenhouse growers should evaluate their production costs to determine if they need to make adjustments to stay competitive.

Read More
Workplace Trends

January 20, 2017

10 Trends Predicted to Impact the Workplace in 2017

Here are 10 workplace trends that Forbes contributor Dan Schawbel predicts for 2017 that may change the way you do business in the future

Read More
Latest Stories

February 17, 2017

How to Keep Customers Coming Back With Top-Notch Servic…

A recent article on Forbes.com outlines seven ways organizations can take their customer service from good to great and beyond.

Read More

January 27, 2017

Why Greenhouse Growers Must Know Their Costs to Stay Co…

Tom Dudek, Senior Educator at Michigan State University Extension, says greenhouse growers should evaluate their production costs to determine if they need to make adjustments to stay competitive.

Read More
Workplace Trends

January 20, 2017

10 Trends Predicted to Impact the Workplace in 2017

Here are 10 workplace trends that Forbes contributor Dan Schawbel predicts for 2017 that may change the way you do business in the future

Read More

January 10, 2017

Sidney B. Meadows Scholarship Endowment Fund Accepting …

The deadline for applications is May 26, and 12 scholarships of $1,500 each will be awarded at the SEGreen Conference in August.

Read More
GROW Logo

December 28, 2016

Greenhouse Grower’s GROW Initiative: A Year In Review

Staying ahead of the competition in today’s world is about remaining in constant motion with innovation. To create a competitive advantage, you must consistently experiment with and learn from new ideas. Greenhouse Grower’s GROW initiative provided cutting-edge ideas and actionable advice.

Read More
Grow Summit 2016 group shot

December 20, 2016

Less Talk, More Action At Greenhouse Grower’s GRO…

Investing in technology, developing new marketing solutions, and recruiting young growers were just a few of the issues covered at GROW Summit 2016.

Read More
Dramm-Echter-Pink-Gerbera-Daisies

November 22, 2016

Dramm & Echter Donates Pink Gerbera Daisies During …

“As a local flower farm, we are honored to show our support by sharing symbolic pink flowers with each participant as they reach the midway point on their amazing journey,” says Bob Echter, Owner of Dramm & Echter.

Read More
deming-pdsa-cycle

November 21, 2016

How The PDSA Cycle Can Help You Improve Your Business

No successful business stays stagnant, which means you should constantly be looking for ways to make improvements to your business and your products. Are you looking for a good model to follow? Try the PDSA Cycle.

Read More
afe-fundraising-dinner

November 17, 2016

AFE Fundraising Dinner Celebrates Success, Raises Almos…

The American Floral Endowment’s biggest fundraising event of the year, the 2016 Annual Fundraising Dinner, did more than just honor industry champions. It also raised nearly $20,000 for the future of floriculture programs.

Read More
hoffman-nursery-owners

November 9, 2016

How Hoffman Nursery Invests In The Future Of The Greenh…

Hoffman Nursery believes in the future leaders of horticulture, and the operation invests in several programs to cultivate young people in their careers.

Read More
2015 GROW Summit_discussion shot

October 28, 2016

How We Can Inspire Millennials To Get Involved In Horti…

By uniting our efforts, we can attract new generations of growers and consumers to the horticulture industry, starting when they are young.

Read More
green-plan-it-gardening-outdoor-nature-explore-classroom

October 22, 2016

Here’s A Great Way To Bring Horticulture And Scho…

The Green Plan It Challenge gives school students in the U.K. the opportunity to participate in a 10-week project where they rethink the role of green space and develop solutions to horticulture-related problems.

Read More
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

October 19, 2016

How Jeffery’s Greenhouse Is Investing In The Indu…

Greenhouse Grower reached out to Albert Grimm, the 2016 Head Grower of the Year and Head Grower of Jeffery’s Greenhouse, to ask what he and his company have done in the last 12 months to invest in the industry. Here is what he had to say.

Read More
Dallas Johnson Greenhouses has significantly reduced the amount of time and labor spent pulling and processing orders, while improving plant quality at retail

October 1, 2016

Political Stalemate On Labor Means Your Opportunity To …

Despite the frustrating nature of our current political climate, now may be the best time for you to address your long-term labor and automation needs.

Read More
Vogel Alcove NGB Therapeutic Grant Winner

September 27, 2016

National Garden Bureau Announces Horticulture Therapy G…

The NGB’s annual grant program, Growing for Futures, recently selected three therapeutic gardens that will receive grants totaling $5,000.

Read More
customer-base

September 21, 2016

6 Creative Ways To Expand Your Business

Marketing experts offer tips to help you catch the attention of new customers and grow your business.

Read More
America In Bloom Project

August 29, 2016

Your Chance To Help America In Bloom As It Celebrates I…

America In Bloom is launching a fundraising campaign to help the group continue its mission of creating beautiful and vibrant communities across the country.

Read More
Next Generation

August 27, 2016

Australia Launches Initiative To Ignite A New Generatio…

Hort Innovation Chief Executive John Lloyd says the goal is to identify and build future industry leaders at all stages of their career through investment in a host of new initiatives.

Read More