Colorado cannabis cultivation law aims to assist growers in key areas

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Cross-pollination, poor weather conditions and interstate commerce are three subjects being actively discussed by state lawmakers in Colorado. 

Back in June, cannabis growers jumped for joy at the passing of House Bill 21-1301, which, moving forwards, could effectively assist farmers in succeeding.

HB 21-1301 was approved following concerns from numerous outdoor growers across the state, where legal cannabis sales revenue topped $2.2 billion in February

According to lawmakers, the bill aims to relieve worries pertaining to unpredictable weather circumstances, such as premature snowstorms, as well as position growers nicely for the prospect of a federally legal market.

Additionally, Colorado’s cannabis cultivation law is designed to encourage discussion participation through the formation of working groups. Such groups would be required to converse about cross-pollination reduction methods.

Preparing cannabis cultivators in Colorado for bad weather

Granting cannabis cultivators in Colorado the opportunity to develop contingency plans could significantly reduce crop loss caused by unpredictable weather events. This is especially relevant for outdoor farmers in Southern Colorado, where temperatures can vary widely from one day to the next.

Last year, cannabis and hemp cultivators in Southern Colorado reported struggling with heavy financial losses some farmers reported losses in the range of millions following a September snowstorm. Freezing temperatures can cause tissue damage to plants, as well as cause mold problems due to excess moisture.

Based on Colorado’s new cannabis cultivation law, growers could establish an emergency plan and gain compliance approval by the Marijuana Enforcement Division. Had this been the case last year, Southern Colorado’s growers could have saved their crops by storing them in a neighboring facility. However, doing so meant that they would have breached compliance rules.

If you’re going to have an industry where the state is benefiting from a crop a farmer is growing, the farmer should be able to take steps to protect their crop from adverse weather,” said Henry Baskerville, who assumes the role of managing partner for Denver-based law firm Fortis Law Partners. “It’s only going to get worse as Colorado gets more swings in extreme weather from climate change.”

Preparing cannabis cultivators in Colorado for cross-pollination

Also included in Colorado’s new cannabis cultivation law is the formation of a working group that will be tasked with cross pollination matters. The subject of cross pollination encompasses incidents whereby a crop of female cannabis or hemp plants is (inadvertently) pollinated by a nearby crop of male plants.

When this happens, high-THC harvests may be destroyed, thus resulting in expensive crop losses. Additionally, hemp growers who are focused on growing plants specifically for the seed, fiber and grain may unintentionally pollinate crops grown by hemp cultivators who are attempting to produce plants with high levels of the non-psychotropic cannabinoid CBD (cannabidiol).

While the working group won’t possess the power to completely stamp out cross pollination issues, it is an integral step in the right direction. One suggestion is that state regulators could require growers to amend their growing cycles, so as to ensure that feminized plants and seed-producing plants are harvested at different times. 

The diverse working group is expected to comprise more than 15 members, of whom will be a mixture of cannabis and hemp growers.

Preparing cannabis cultivators in Colorado for interstate commerce

In the event that federal cannabis legalization is enacted, Colorado could benefit from interstate commerce. Other cannabis markets like Oregon have enacted legislation that would enable industry players to send products across state lines, thus serving as inspiration for Colorado to do the same.

The state’s soon-to-be-formed working group is striving to figure out how the transition to a federally legal market could be made easier. One idea is to permit interstate commerce which could help Colorado to compete with other legal states by amending existing laws. 

Interstate commerce could mirror the alcohol industry in the sense that some states will permit exports and others will focus on protecting their in-state industries. While the road ahead is long and likely not without obstacles, the fact that Colorado lawmakers are even discussing interstate commerce is a promising sign of things to come.