……and sow it everywhere” George Washington
About 15 years ago I served on a jury in Cleveland, Ohio deciding the fate of a woman accused of attempting to smuggle several suitcases full of marijuana into Ohio via Hopkins Airport. The judge was a wonderfully elegant woman who was very curious about my answer to the question during jury voir dire about whether marijuana should be illegal. I answered honestly that I felt there were some medical conditions that responded well to the use of medical marijuana and that I felt it should be legal for those purposes. That opened the floodgate for several more members of the jury to respond that they also felt marijuana had medical application. Unfortunately for the defendant marijuana was still illegal in Ohio. We found her guilty and she was sentenced to 8 years in prison.
Since 2009 we have had a reasonably good Medical Marijuana Law here in Maine. Patients can have access to the pain, anxiety and nausea relieving qualities of this herbal medicine. Several of my friends and co-workers at Fedco have become “caregivers” or “cultivators” and will be making a nice living growing for this niche market. Everyone I know will be growing organically.
The debate continues, however, about just what the future of this new industry will be. It is obviously profitable (witness the large dispensary corporations setting up shop in the 8 regional districts) and will offer jobs both in the business of growing and in all the support industries needed for any agricultural venture. It will bring money and jobs into Maine’s ailing economy.
One of the main questions in this debate is big versus little. Are we going to foster the big dispensaries with their unlimited number of plants grown hydroponically (not organically)? Or are we going to support our small local caregivers? Those folks who are growing for their six patients with a personal relationship with the buyers and with the cultivation of the plant. Most of them have a history of growing marijuana in Maine. They know the strains that grow well and the ones that produce the best medicine. I had joked a while ago that Fedco should start doing trials of various marijuana cultivars and offering the seed in our catalog. That day may not be far away.
That is if we can keep the Drug Enforcement Agency out of it. Obama stated early in his presidency that he would not have the DEA wasting it’s time, money and effort enforcing the federal marijuana laws in states which had decided, within their own boundaries, Medical Marijuana would be legal and regulated by a state agency. The DEA and the Department of Justice have recently been breaking that promise by raiding state regulated dispensaries across the country.
So once again politics and agriculture collide. Compounded this time by medical and humanitarian issues.
In this case it would be best if we just paid attention to the Father of our Country and make the most of our hemp seed. (Yes I know he meant textile hemp not the Maryjane but I have been wanting to use this quote for a while now so I took some poetic license, Okay???) Without government interference.