Medical Marijuana

By Daniel Zellers, Sustainable Plant Systems major

One of the biggest changes to the horticulture Industry recently has been the legalization of medical marijuana. The growers in states that have legalized marijuana now face the major decision about whether they want to jump into this lucrative business opportunity. I have been personally asked the question if I will grow medical marijuana when Ohio legalizes. This is not a decision that is a quick or easy one to make.

If you choose to become a medical marijuana grower, you will face strict regulations by both state and federal laws. I went to the Pennsylvania medical marijuana program home page to start my research for this decision. I found instructions on how to become a grower, and the first thing I noticed was that it costs $10,000 just to submit the application and costs another $200,000 to obtain your permit to grower and sell medical marijuana legally. That is a lot of money just to be allowed to grow medical marijuana. That does not include the cost of building or upgrading your facility to meet the standards imposed by Pennsylvania law.

I then found the Pa code of laws regulating the growing and selling of medical marijuana. The facility must have video surveillance, alarm systems, inventory monitoring and tracking, personal security and all plants must be grown and processed indoors. And a state of the art indoor growing facility can cost between 1.5 and 2 million dollars per acre.  On top of these regulations, the consideration of what you are growing is for medical purposes, needs to be included.

I am familiar with the food safety standards because my family has a salad vegetable farm and I get frightened at the thought of growing plants for medical safety standards. The regulations Pennsylvania growers along with personal reasons are why I will not be transitioning my family’s greenhouse to medical marijuana, when Ohio legalizes.

> More information (Pennsylvania code)

This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

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