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Montana is considering a new requirement that medical marijuana growers keep their operations confined to indoor environments, leaving the outdoors for hemp production only.
A state Senate committee Thursday heard from hemp and marijuana growers on the bill that aims to prevent cross-pollination between hemp and marijuana, the (Helena) Independent Record reported.
The bill would require marijuana to be grown indoors in greenhouses or hoop houses.
The bill sponsor, Sen. Tom Jacobson, said that that most marijuana growers already grow indoors to maximize year-round production, while outdoor Montana farmers could use hemp to diversify their operations.
Montana’s agriculture department is also in favor of the bill.
But medical marijuana growers objected, saying the bill would impact the investments they have already made in outdoor facilities, and arguing that the industry is more lucrative and has been in place longer than the state’s hemp program, and shouldn’t have to move in favor of hemp.
The proposal would not grandfather marijuana cultivators already licensed to grow outside.
Montana voters legalized adult-use marijuana in 2020, which will make the industry more economically robust than hemp, medical marijuana producers contended. Rules for adult-use marijuana production in Montana are still in development.
The Montana debate comes as outdoor marijuana and hemp farmers are increasingly coming to loggerheads over pollen drift, setting the stage for growing disputes in areas with thriving outdoor cannabis production.
According to researchers at Michigan State University, a single male cannabis flower can produce 350,000 pollen grains capable of traveling great distances in the wind.