Let me first start off by saying I was wrong in my last article. And I was glad that I was wrong. I assumed, along with a lot of other people, that Virginia was going to implement legalization this year after they passed the law in the last legislative session. They in fact were going to wait a couple of years before it would go into effect but the backlash changed all of that.
For Maryland, this will be a competitive disadvantage and one that hopefully we will overcome, but in the meantime, on July 1, cannabis will be legal in Virginia. So, after burying the lead, I believe the future of cannabis in Frederick County is pollen or the lack thereof. I first got interested in pollen about 30 years ago.
I learned that the United Nations would track the amount of pollen as it drifted off the opium fields in Afghanistan. Tracking production through pollen would become standard practice. It opened my eyes to the vast distribution that can occur simply from the wind.
If they can track the pollen of poppies, they can do it with cannabis. And that really got me thinking. More than 10 years, ago I contacted the director of the palynology lab at Texas A&M who was the foremost authority on ancient pollen and I was interested if anyone had done a study on ancient cannabis pollen?
Specifically, sediment cores that would date from the end of the old kingdom in Egypt to the fall of the Akkadian Empire with special interest placed at the time of the collapse. I was looking for the tell-tale signs of textile use and maybe drug production. Sadly, the answer I received was that while cannabis pollen is produced by the millions, the problem was not that it would be rare, but the problem was that nobody was doing the studies in the areas I was most interested in.
So what does that have to do with Frederick County? Well, someday in the future, cannabis pollen will be everywhere. And the type of pollen will be crucial. I always wondered why the Drug Enforcement Administration didn’t allow hemp production as a form of asymmetrical warfare during the height of the drug war. They could have seeded crops in Mexico with low THC hemp pollen and ruined the drug crop instead of spraying deadly herbicides.
The county is going to have to decide if they are ever going to allow hemp production. It also needs a plan if they ever decide to have both types of plants in production. Humboldt County, California, has a ban on hemp. Cross-pollination is a huge issue with cannabis. You don’t want pollination from your neighbor’s cannabis plants, let alone from their hemp plants, if you’re trying to grow cannabis without seeds.
I see the biggest issues being pollen and pricing. When the move to outdoor becomes legal for everyone, you’re going to see the prices drop and right now, that is not happening. I believe you’ll see nonprofit co-ops that will further drive the market as you finally see demand ease. Let me end by saying, I may be wrong, but failing to plan is planning to fail.
John Jacobs writes and lives in Frederick County.