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February 15, 2013 at 6:02 AM

Marijuana, but not for farming outdoors

A correspondent asks me about licensing of farms to grow marijuana: big farms, little farms, family farms, etc. Clearly he is thinking about farms of the sort that grow vegetables and flowers outside.

I replied that most of the interest I’ve heard (actually all the interest) has been about growing indoors.   Everyone wants to grow the highest-quality cannabis, which requires the highest-quality soil, control of light, heat, humidity, etc.

I asked Muraco Kyashna-Tocha of the Evergreen State Cannabis Trade Alliance about this. She confirmed it.

“In order to grow good marijuana, stuff that is 15 to 16 percent THC, your plants have to be female-only,” she said. “You have to keep them from being fertilized with male pollen.” The temperature should be in the 60s, with no frost, and to induce flowering the grower has to shut off the light before 12 hours. All this points toward growing indoors, either in a closed room under lights or in a greenhouse rigged for shutting out the sun.

Marijuana isn’t native to our climate. But Washington has a thriving marijuana industry. “We are the indoor growing capital of the world,” she said. “Four of the five top strains in Amsterdam were developed in the Great Northwest.”

There is also the question of security: this is a plant whose dried flowering tops sell for upwards of $10 a gram. Put it outside and people will take it in the night.

Finally, demand. Buyers want high quality and are willing to pay for it.

The bottom line: indoors.

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