Before the Farm Bill was approved, the state of Oregon was proving to be a test case of the economic and agricultural reality of the coexistence of marijuana and legal hemp. In theory, success is not possible without any complications.
Oregon is one of the first states to have legalized the use of recreational marijuana. This happened after voters passed a law in 2014 through a ballot measure. In order to address the black market of cannabis, regulators of the state have made it easy for everyone, including growers in the black market, to obtain a license to cultivate the crop. Even though the legislature has only the best intentions, their decision has led to unexpected consequences.
Growing More Than the Demand
In the previous year, it has been found that cultivators of cannabis in Oregon have grown more cannabis than the required demand. In May 2018, Oregon had more than a million pounds of cannabis flower in their inventory. That’s equivalent to a quarter pound of weed for every resident of the state. The immense overproduction of weed caused the cost of a gram to drop by 50%. Yet, this drop in price also led to a huge increase in sales as well as the sales tax revenue.
Preventing Interstate Black Market
In order to prevent the legal weed from ending up in the black market of other states, growers of marijuana in Oregon have to inform officials of their harvest. Thus, a conflict has stemmed from this regulation. Some believe that this could prevent illegal trafficking of weed interstate, but others argue that this will only lead to more bureaucracy that affects struggling cannabis growers. And although it could help to prevent black market interstate, it will not really address the crashing prices as a result of overproduction.
To resolve the conflict, marijuana growers have considered diversifying. Even before the 2018 Farm Bill was signed in December, some growers had already resulted in cultivating industrial hemp in order to make up for the shortfall in revenue. Thus, in the state of Oregon, hemp has major advantages over marijuana as of the moment.
Advantages of Hemp Over Marijuana
Here are some of the reasons why hemp is more advantageous over marijuana in Oregon:
- Most of the grow operations of marijuana are only limited to less than one acre. However, industrial hemp operations can be grown to several acres! With the current oversaturation of marijuana and the increasing demand for hemp, it’s clear that there’s so much more money in hemp compared to marijuana.
- Hemp is cheaper and easier to grow and comes with only a few regulatory costs and hurdles.
- With hemp’s federal legalization lately, hemp is expected to grow both in terms of international and national market, while marijuana can only thrive within the state of Oregon.
While it’s clear that there are lots of potential advantages to growing both hemp and marijuana to diversify their crops, a lot of growers don’t have the skills or knowledge to cultivate 40 acres of hemp and incorporate it to their existing marijuana crops. This is something that could put a hurdle to the growing cannabis industry in Oregon.