In this way, critics said, the strict limit makes outdoor cultivation financially risky, effectively freezing out equity applicants, craft cooperatives, the state’s 5,000-plus small family farms, and anyone else who can’t afford a multimillion-dollar indoor facility. It also drives up costs for marijuana consumers and patients, with companies charging more at the register to make back their big investments in climate-controlled warehouses, lab tests, remediation, and sanitation.
Colorado, California, Oregon, and many other states with legal marijuana require testing only for a handful of specific pathogens, such as salmonella and aspergillus. Massachusetts, on the other hand, places a low limit on the total amount of bacteria and fungus in each batch of regulated cannabis, regardless of whether they are harmful or benign species.
Meanwhile, state agriculture officials have banned the use of nearly all pesticides and fungicides on legal marijuana, unlike other states that allow the application of certain natural compounds used on organic food.
The standards are intended to protect consumers from moldy or bacteria-contaminated flower. But farmers across Massachusetts have complained that the state’s unusually tight rules are based on flimsy science, discourage outdoor growing and other sustainable practices, add to the high cost of pot, and defy the simple fact that cannabis is a plant, one adapted to grow in soil rich with microorganisms.
Regulators will reconsider the state’s strict microbe standard
“We heard them,” said Shawn Collins, the commission’s executive director, referring to outdoor farmers. “We’re taking into account their considerations as unique operators . . . but also trying to balance that against the declaration to the public” that legal marijuana has been tested and deemed safe to consume.
Holistic Health Group cofounder Colonel Boothe stood under the security cameras that monitor his company's outdoor cannabis farm in Middleborough. Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff
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.
“You don’t walk into a greenhouse and say, ‘Oh my God, this is the cleanest place in the world,’ ” said Reginald Stanfield, head horticulturalist at JustinCredible Cultivation in Cummington. “You expect soil to be there — living things. It’s overkill what we’re having to do right now. It feels like I’m manufacturing some secret government chemical. I wish I could keep it natural, but it’s an investment that needs to be repaid.”
“We put a lot of love and nurturing into those plants for two and a half months, only to hit a wall,” said Holistic Health Group cofounder Colonel Boothe. “It could be as simple as maybe our employees weren’t wearing gloves one day. Or it could be we did nothing wrong. The lines are arbitrarily drawn.”
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.
Cannabis Fire Safety
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.
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.