It’s weed in opposition to weed in elements of rural Oklahoma, because the state’s medical marijuana growers conflict with conventional agriculture producers over using herbicides and pesticides.
State Rep. Dick Lowe, R-Amber, mentioned disputes have arisen because the state entered its grass-growing season and hashish growers tried to cease agriculture producers from spraying pastures due to fears the chemical compounds would drift, unintentionally snuffing out their new neighbors’ profitable marijuana crops.
Whereas most farmers try and spray on windless days, specialists acknowledge that herbicides and pesticides can unintentionally drift onto surrounding properties. Farmers are apprehensive they may very well be held liable if their herbicide or pesticide inadvertently reaches a develop home, killing or making a hashish crop unusable.
Some develop homes, in the meantime, have been constructed proper as much as the property line, Lowe mentioned, and others have develop operations subsequent to roadways, complicating efforts by counties and the Oklahoma Division of Transportation to make use of chemical compounds to manage weed progress alongside public roadways.
He mentioned the difficulty has grown extra urgent because of the explosion of develop operations. Medical marijuana licensing information present there are greater than 2,000 develop operations across the state. Lowe’s house county of Grady has 307 licensed develop operations alone, together with 4 inside a two-mile radius of his house.
“They’re scattered round all by means of the counties. It’s not like they’re simply in a little bit place or two, it’s in all places,” Lowe mentioned.
Lowe, who raises present sheep, sprays his grazing land to get rid of weeds.
He’s co-sponsoring an interim examine exploring methods medical marijuana growers and conventional agriculture can coexist.
“For essentially the most half these incidents are remoted, however the cause that it’s so extreme is simply the price and the value of a crop,” mentioned Chip Paul, an advocate for the medical marijuana trade. “An acre of marijuana is price considerably greater than an acre of wheat or an acre of cotton.”
He mentioned the difficulty must be regulated, maybe requiring conventional agriculture producers to present marijuana growers a head’s up earlier than they start to spray their fields, and maybe by requiring favorable wind situations earlier than they’re allowed to obtain a twig allow.
Paul mentioned farmers have all the time been respectful of one another and until it’s important for his or her livelihood, have been keen to change what they’re doing out of respect for his or her neighbors.
“For some cause, the hashish grower simply isn’t accepted into that group proper but,” Paul added.
Lee Rhoades, laboratory program oversight supervisor with the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, mentioned pesticides are regulated by the Environmental Safety Company, which establishes allowable quantities on meals merchandise. However the EPA has not authorized or designated pesticide thresholds for hashish, so Oklahoma, like different states, has adopted the place that there isn’t a allowable quantity. The lab exams for the presence of pesticides on marijuana crops, and below the present guidelines there isn’t a remediation allowed for hashish that exams optimistic for pesticides, which means it can’t be offered or transferred.
He additionally famous that medical marijuana is consumed in another way than different meals as a result of some customers smoke it, inhaling the smoke into their lungs, successfully bypassing practically the entire physique’s protection mechanisms by going straight into the blood stream. Some pesticides when ignited additionally create poisonous compounds like hydrogen cyanide, Rhoades mentioned.
He mentioned that presently a comparatively small share of batches are failing due to pesticide utilization.
“In fact as you may think about, they get upset about that,” Rhoades mentioned, including that a number of the growers are blaming pesticide drift.
The Oklahoma Wheat Fee deferred remark to the state’s Wheat Growers Affiliation. Neither that group nor the Oklahoma Farm Bureau responded to requests for remark.
State Rep. Carl Newton, R-Cherokee, one other co-sponsor of the interim examine, additionally mentioned most farmers attempt to spray when there isn’t a wind, however followers inside the develop homes are exacerbating the difficulty by sucking the pesticides onto the marijuana crops.
“I feel as a legislature we should be conscientious of creating certain we’re setting the suitable tips for the longer term if we’re going to have this,” Newton mentioned. “We’ve sort of received the Wild West occurring proper now.”
He additionally mentioned the difficulty is very urgent in western Oklahoma the place farmers typically depend on no-till farming methods in an effort to protect water. It’s not unusual for a farmer to spray his crop with some type of herbicide at the least twice a 12 months, Newton mentioned.
Newton additionally mentioned any new rules would possible need to be grandfathered in in order to not affect current companies, although lawmakers have additionally checked out starting to restrict the variety of develop operations as licenses start to run out.
“Granted we’re late to the ballgame, nevertheless it’s higher to be late than not present up in any respect,” Newton mentioned.
Janelle Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and web sites. Attain her at firstname.lastname@example.org.