Marijuana and hemp growers duke it out in Oregon Legislature

Depending on who’s talking, a 20-acre hemp farm about 10 miles south of Grants Pass is either the harbinger of a new industry that could help save rural Oregon – or an existential threat to local marijuana farmers just as they’re anticipating boom times.

Hemp, the non-intoxicating version of cannabis sativa, has long been a big part of the marijuana culture, celebrated for its wide variety of uses and status as a fellow victim of federal prohibition.

But now that both hemp and marijuana are coming out of the legal shadows in Oregon, they’re suddenly in conflict – and state legislators may be about to side with the much more well-established marijuana industry.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would temporarily halt hemp production and force that farm near Grants Pass to yank its plants out of the ground, albeit with compensation from the state. The bill would also put stricter controls on hemp in areas of the state – such as southern Oregon – where marijuana farms are plentiful.

Marijuana growers say they worry that pollen from hemp farms could wreak damage on prized female cannabis flowers, cross-pollinating them and producing a seedy crop with weaker THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the substance responsible for marijuana’s high.

“Any hemp industry that produces pollen around here is going to destroy the value” of the highly bred local marijuana crop, says Cedar Grey, a medical marijuana grower and president of the Oregon Sungrown Growers Guild.

A lot of “nervous neighbors,” says Grey, are watching hemp farmers begin to plant in a region nationally famous for the quality of its marijuana.

The legislation – contained in proposed amendments to House Bill 2668 — has infuriated the state’s small number of hemp farmers, who say they are threatened with being shut out of the best growing areas in the state.

If the legislation passes, it’s “basically the death knell of hemp in Josephine County,” says Cliff Thomason, a real estate agent who has put together a consortium planning large-scale hemp farming in a county that is the epicenter for the southern Oregon marijuana industry. More at Source