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growing marijuana outdoors in massachusetts

Growing marijuana outdoors in massachusetts

Can Hui Wu (L) and Huoqiu Wu (R) (Photos provided by Belchertown Police Department)

“It wasn’t a furnished home someone would live in. Where you would typically have a piece of furniture, the entire square footage was taken up by marijuana plants,” said an officer during a phone interview.

It is allowed to have six plants per person with a max of 12 in a household, so if there are two people living in a house they can have 12 plants but if you go above that it’s illegal.

The Belchertown Fire Department received a call of a possible house fire and when they arrived at the home on West Street they noticed a significant growing operation allegedly run by two men from out of state.

Cannabis Fire Safety

Massachusetts Department of Fire Services Information Officer Jennifer Mieth shared with 22News an informational document that includes general guidance on fire safety while growing cannabis at home.

The two men who were arrested were arraigned in Eastern Hampshire Court Tuesday morning and will have a pre-trial conference on February 12.

BELCHERTOWN, Mass. (WWLP) – A significant marijuana growing operation was found in Belchertown this week where police officers found hundreds of marijuana plants that violated the legal limit for growing marijuana at home.

In Massachusetts, marijuana can be legally smoked and possessed but when it comes to growing the plant, there’s a legal limit. A limit that was well surpassed when Belchertown police and fire discovered a growing operation of more than 800 marijuana plants inside a Belchertown home on Monday night.

Police arrested two men who were involved in the operation, both men are from Brooklyn, New York. In addition to the plants, police seized $2,500 in cash and a significant amount of growing equipment that covered the whole house.

Growing marijuana outdoors in massachusetts

Growers whose harvests fail an initial microbe test can try various “remediation” techniques, ranging from hydrogen peroxide baths to radiation and ozone treatments, but those can be expensive and the resulting flower is often considered of lower quality.

The problem? The marijuana, which was grown outdoors last season, flunked the strict laboratory tests for microbes that all legal cannabis in Massachusetts must pass before sale.

At the indoor cultivation facilities that grew 97.7 percent of the flower available at Massachusetts dispensaries in 2020, rows of cannabis clones are typically planted under electricity-hogging lights in pots full of a sterile soil substitute such as “coco coir,” a wispy fibrous material made from coconut husks that can support plant roots, and fed synthetic nutrients. The air is heavily filtered; workers and visitors must don hair nets, lab coats, and shoe covers to avoid tracking in outside contaminants.

Regulators will reconsider the state’s strict microbe standard

Cultivators stuck with a “hot” crop can also use it as so-called biomass, low-grade marijuana that is ground and heavily processed into concentrates for use in edibles and vaporizers. But biomass in Massachusetts commands just $800 to $1,200 per pound at wholesale, while good-quality smokeable flower goes for $3,500 to $4,000. That’s not enough to justify much pampering of the plants, which is the dilemma facing Boothe, who paid several workers to carefully tend the Middleborough crop.

State regulators say they are listening and considering revisions to the rule. Among the suggestions submitted to the Cannabis Control Commission: raising the microbe limits for outdoor-grown cannabis, allowing slight deviations above the current thresholds, or ditching total microbe counts in favor of tests for specific pathogens.

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Backed into a corner by the tight microbe limit and pesticide ban, most Massachusetts marijuana growers have essentially engineered nature out of the process.

At EOS Farm in Pittsfield, founder Suehiko Ono is preparing to plant over two acres of outdoor-grown marijuana this summer, part of his mission to prove cannabis can serve as an ancillary cash crop for struggling family farms and that increasing the diversity of soil microbes actually makes marijuana safer.