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...
HGTV_2015CAST

April 24, 2016

9 Business Predictions Smart Brands Should Pay Attention To

Andreas von der Heydt, Director of Kindle at Amazon, recently predicted what smart businesses will do in 2016 to strengthen their brands and promote their products.

Read More
Lin Schmale 1996

April 23, 2016

SAF’s Lin Schmale Offers Lessons From An Industry Lobbyist

Schmale represented the floriculture industry on Capitol Hill for more than 20 years. The advocate has recently retired, and shares some valuable insights from her career.

Read More
An Edible Evening At Stephen F Austin

April 11, 2016

How The Greenhouse Industry Can Propagate Gardeners The Same Way It Propagates Plants

Jared Barnes at Stephen F. Austin University says we are the experts at propagating plants. That’s knowledge we can put to good use to envision how to attract new gardeners and future horticulturists to the industry.

Read More
Latest Stories
HGTV_2015CAST

April 24, 2016

9 Business Predictions Smart Brands Should Pay Attentio…

Andreas von der Heydt, Director of Kindle at Amazon, recently predicted what smart businesses will do in 2016 to strengthen their brands and promote their products.

Read More
Lin Schmale 1996

April 23, 2016

SAF’s Lin Schmale Offers Lessons From An Industry…

Schmale represented the floriculture industry on Capitol Hill for more than 20 years. The advocate has recently retired, and shares some valuable insights from her career.

Read More
An Edible Evening At Stephen F Austin

April 11, 2016

How The Greenhouse Industry Can Propagate Gardeners The…

Jared Barnes at Stephen F. Austin University says we are the experts at propagating plants. That’s knowledge we can put to good use to envision how to attract new gardeners and future horticulturists to the industry.

Read More
Congressional Action Days 2016

April 5, 2016

Floral Industry Leaders Make Progress And (In Some Case…

Nearly 90 floral industry members gathered in the nation’s capital in March to meet with lawmakers in the annual event coordinated by the Society of American Florists.

Read More
Student Video Horticulture Education

April 2, 2016

Use Videos Featuring Your Millennial Employees To Recru…

Your Millennial employees may be the best spokespeople you have for your business. Why not encourage them to make a 30-second video talking about why they got into horticulture?

Read More
One symptom of Botrytis blight is gray, fuzzy sporulation on foliage and flowers, similar to that shown on the flower of this hibiscus

March 25, 2016

American Floral Endowment Will Fund Research Projects A…

AFE’s primary research funding priorities cover everything from pest control to production management. Funding applications are due June 1.

Read More
kendall farms

March 12, 2016

3 Grower Brands That Give Customers What They Want

With product information, reviews, and price comparisons at their fingertips, Millennials are turning to brands that can offer maximum convenience at the lowest cost.

Read More
NatureFresh Internship Program

March 8, 2016

NatureFresh Develops Innovative, Interactive Program Fo…

Through WeAreTheGrower.com, students can get hands-on experience connecting with consumers at community events, and sharing their experiences via social media.

Read More
Kristine Lonergan, Garden State Growers

March 7, 2016

How To Make Your Brand Connect With Millennials

Marketing to tech-savvy Millennials means paying attention to their shopping habits and motivations to build relationships that help them connect with gardening.

Read More
Uber provides value to consumers by making their lives better

March 6, 2016

How To Market To Both Millennials And Boomers

While Millennials have become the all-important generation among many marketers, there are some important parallels that can be drawn between Millennials and Boomers.

Read More
This row of tomatoes with large fruit load is part of an on-going project with DeRuiter Seed Co

February 24, 2016

University Of Arizona’s Greenhouse Crop Production &…

The annual event features a comprehensive educational program as well as a hands-on workshop. Registration is now open.

Read More
Carol Miller

February 16, 2016

Why America Needs Plant Evangelists

If we want to have more people buying plants, we can’t sit back and hope for change. We need to share our passion with individual communities and spark a love for plants.

Read More

February 2, 2016

19 Strategies To Strengthen The Horticulture Industry

In Greenhouse Grower’s annual State Of The Industry Survey, we asked how your operation is living the GROW initiative’s five pillars: cultivate new customers, demand quality, drive consumer success, invest in the industry, and sharpen business management. Here is what you had to say.

Read More
John Daley Featured

January 25, 2016

How To Retain Motivated Young Growers At Your Greenhous…

Wholesale grower John R. Daley says engaging young growers and making them a viable part of your operation is the best way to ensure you keep young talent for the long term.

Read More
Janeen Wright

January 18, 2016

Five Thought-Provoking Ideas From GROW Summit 2015

Here are five ideas from Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 GROW Summit ranging from big-picture ideas to smaller initiatives that can help move the industry forward.

Read More
SAF CAD

January 18, 2016

Sign Up Now To Attend SAF Congressional Action Days In …

Congressional Action Days is a great chance for Society of American Florists members to meet their state’s lawmakers and discuss the most critical issues they are facing.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

January 15, 2016

Allan Armitage: Why The Deck Has Becomes The New Hot Sp…

Armitage says decks and small spaces allow younger generations to enjoy all the benefits of a garden without the work.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

January 6, 2016

Most Popular New Year’s Resolution For 2016 Favor…

It’s splashed all over social media: 2016 is going to be a great year! And what’s fueling that sentiment? It’s an overwhelming need for Americans to enjoy life more. In fact, we’re so passionate about this that it’s the most popular New Year’s Resolution for 2016, followed by living a healthier lifestyle. Here are the top 6 resolutions for 2016, as reported by Time.com, according to a Google Consumer Survey by GoBankingRates. Enjoy life to the fullest Live a healthier lifestyle Lose weight Save more, spend less Spend more time with family and friends Pay down debt Among different age groups, Millennials (18 to 34) are setting more resolutions than any other group, and they’re the most concerned with spending more time with loved ones, and the most concerned with spending less and saving money. Younger Gen Xers (35 to 44) are focused more on living healthier in 2016, while […]

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]