Arizona farmers will be able to plant hemp seeds soon (on June 1), which has the state’s medical marijuana growers concerned about cross pollination. The best way to prevent this, according to some of the growers, is to keep the pollen off of the hemp plants.
In Snowflake, there will be a buffer zone created between marijuana and hemp crops, according to AZ Central. Two other areas of the state are also discussing creating buffer zones. Farmers are asking for a 10-mile buffer zone. Marijuana and hemp may be part of the same plant family, but they are two very different plants.
Attorney Timothy La Sota said earlier this year that, “In short, the potential for cross pollination of hemp plants and marijuana plants is inescapable if hemp is permitted to be grown in proximity to marijuana.”
Hemp crops are expected to be bigger than marijuana crops and include the cultivation of male plants. The inclusion of male plants in industrial hemp crops opens up the potential for cross pollination to occur.
A 10-mile buffer zone would significantly decrease the chances of cross pollination.
Pima County officials have already declined to create a buffer zone as it could have reduced the cultivation area significantly.
Chris Poirier of Pima County Development Services said, “They wanted a 10-mile buffer. That would then preclude ‘x’ amount of miles and hundreds, if not thousands of acres for potential crops from being grown, imposing then this prohibition on other people’s property rights.”
Harvest Health and Recreation also has concerns about cross pollination for their facility in Camp Verde.
Steve White of Harvest said, “It is on our radar, it is something we talk about. We don’t want those local communities to lose jobs. If you make a significant investment in a community, you want to make sure that investment is going to be protected.”
These concerns are being raised as the Arizona Department of Agriculture is establishing the regulations for the emerging industrial hemp industry. Those rules are expected by May 31. Cross-pollination is not on the agency’s radar. It’ll be up to hemp farmers to choose their location wisely and ensure that they’re within any regulations set by state and localities.
The department’s website says, “It will be the responsibility of the license holder to determine if there are any local zoning or ordinance restrictions. Cross-pollination issues are the responsibility of the applicant/licensee to be aware of to protect their crop.”