Vineyards, legal cannabis growers describe negative impacts
Paul Murdoch’s Horn Creek Hemp farm outside Jacksonville was ringed with illegal marijuana operations last year.
“It was nuts. We were surrounded by illegal grows,” he said.
Murdoch said two of the five illegal grows got busted. He thinks the 2021 law enforcement response, growers shifting to other parts of the country this year and an over-saturated market for marijuana may be having an effect. There’s only one grow still operating near him that he believes is illegal.
Although most of the illegal grows are gone, Murdoch is still coping with negative impacts.
He said thousands of marijuana plants sprouted on their own in an abandoned field near Horn Creek Farm. About half are male plants that produce pollen carried by insects and wind. That pollen could slash the value of nearby legal hemp and marijuana crops.
Once they’re pollinated, female plants put their energy into making seeds. They produce less THC — prized by marijuana growers to get users high — or CBD, favored by hemp growers who want to make medicinal products.
“Pollen can decimate cannabis crops. It really harms agricultural operations,” Murdoch said