Complaints from legal marijuana farms have halted the issuance of hemp farming licenses in Oregon- for now.
Both types of farms are authorized under Oregon law. Marijuana, used for medicine and recreation, and hemp, used for industrial and commercial purposes, are plants in the same family. That means they can cross-breed.
The Oregonian reports that marijuana farmers are concerned that the hemp plants will spread their pollen over wide swaths of countryside and accidentally pollinate their marijuana plants. Cannabis plants are genetically selected to produce robust flowers typically grown in the absence of male plants.
No males, no seeds. Marijuana flowers without seeds, generically called sensimilla, are the most cost-effective and prized of the cannabis flower products. Plants that put energy into growing seeds produce smaller flowers, which reduce their market value. Fields that are accidentally pollinated could cost growers thousands of dollars on every acre from low yields.
Marijuana farmers successfully argued to the state government that an unchecked expansion of hemp farming could lead to trouble. They propose that hemp farming be banned in the entire southern portion of Oregon- the area most known for producing an outstanding marijuana crop- or at least kept away from the three most prosperous counties for cannabis production.
Existing hemp farmers can continue to plow their fields. The ban is on new licensees, and it looks like the issue won’t be settled until 2017