In the marijuana industry, “commercially grown” is often used as a derogatory term that conjures up images of poorly grown cannabis in less than optimal conditions. You might think of growers who are only in it for the money and routinely sacrifice quality for quantity. So I pose this question. Can medical grade marijuana be grown commercially and is growing commercially truly a bad thing?
Let me tell you a little secret. The majority of cannabis in medical marijuana dispensaries can probably be considered commercially grown. By that I mean, the growers do it for the paycheck. Sure, some of them are altruist who sacrifice their time and money and take huge risks so patients they don’t personally know can have good cannabis. Lets get real, most growers who supply dispensaries wouldn’t do it without the paycheck.
Most dispensaries don’t grow their own marijuana. In fact, many municipalities won’t even allow dispensaries to grow marijuana on location. Though some dispensary owners will grow at secondary locations, most can’t possibly grow enough to keep a busy dispensary stocked. Instead, dispensaries purchase cannabis from growers who grow more cannabis than is needed for personal use. Chances are good that growers are distributing their harvest to multiple dispensaries.
So are these commercial growers just profiteers getting rich off the illnesses of medical marijuana patients? Are they criminal gangs growing warehouses or acres of marijuana covered in pesticides and chemicals? Are you imagining cannabis that is harvested too early, hastily dried then thrown into large piles on the floor? This may be true of the huge gardens with thousands of plants illegally grown in our National Forest but this is the cannabis you find on street corners, not on the shelves of medical cannabis dispensaries.
The truth is that most “commercial” gardens are actually mom and pop operations. They run their medical cannabis gardens much like a small family business. They scrape out a living supplying dispensaries and others with cannabis. Very few of them drive around in fancy cars, live in big houses, wear excessive gold chains like Mr T. (I pitty the fool!) The majority of outdoor cannabis found in dispensaries comes from these lower to middle class rural families who are trying to make the mortgage or rent on a house just big enough for their family. What “extra” money comes in often goes right back into the garden for next year, making improvements or expanding.
Is this a bad thing? In my opinion, No.
As a customer I want the best product at the best price. I want high quality cannabis free of pests, fungus, pathogens, and harmful chemical residues from pesticides, fungicides and who knows what else. A commercial grower who is in it for the long haul has the experience to produce at these high standards and unforgiving customers who demands it. Growers don’t get paid top dollar for an inferior product, so they grow to the highest standard possible.
As I mentioned, I also want the best price. Growing on a small commercial level reduces the end cost of production per pound.
Cannabis is really no different from any other agricultural crop. Consider a grape grower. There is much effort and care given to his vines during the season. It’s perfectly okay for a grape grower to make a living by selling his grapes to a wine maker. How about the marijuana farmer? Are the grapes lower quality, or somehow sub standard if they come from a large vineyard. I think the obvious answer is no. Commercially grown marijuana by farmers dedicated to their craft fills the shelves of medical dispensaries for one reason, because it’s the best.
Besides quality and price there are other benefits of letting commercial growers do what they do best. Just as in the rest of the ag industry, there is a right way and a wrong way to grow your crop. Best practices you might call it. The right way produces a big high quality harvest with as little negative impact as possible. The wrong way can damage the environment and be harmful to those who buy your product. It’s all about being professional and knowing your trade.
I’m talking about
- Not diverting streams and wasting water
- Not allowing silt and fertilizer runoff into streams and fisheries
- Not using dangerous pesticides, PGR’s and other banned substances
- Integrated pest management so we don’t create superbugs immune to normal treatments
The experienced commercial grower takes pride in his garden and uses these best practices to produce the highest quality medicine possible.
Next time you are at your local dispensary picking up your medical marijuana, remember that some farmer in a beat up truck, poured hours of time, care, passion, love and energy into growing that magnificent bud for you to enjoy.