In states with cannabis cultivation laws, a new controversy is brewing that doesn’t pass the smell test.
Growing cannabis, like any crop, requires land, water, and plenty of sunshine, things not always readily available in city centers. So, if farmers want to make money, they grow in rural areas, where land is cheaper and water is plentiful.
Residents of these rural areas tend to skew conservative. Even though they value their freedoms, some are closed-minded about cannabis. And, not much except continuing education is likely to ever sway them from their phobic loathing of the plant and misguided beliefs about what it does to people and society.
Many traditional farmers have made the choice to switch crops and grow “the green that brings in the green”. Yet, despite having the option, many others did not try. They chose instead to farm sour grapes, and some might now be regretting that decision. If they, too, were raking in money from the nation’s No. 1 cash crop, then they might not be complaining about others’ doing so.
Neighbors do have some legitimate gripes: The security fences required for farming cannabis are certainly not the norm for farms across the country. Fencing off land doesn’t exactly give it a wide-open, spacious feel. And, the laws regarding the fences are a little confusing. For example, the state of Washington has decided to require eight-foot fences around the farms; but some local jurisdictions prohibit fences taller than six feet.
Making scents of the issue
But it turns out that one of the biggest complaints neighboring farmers and residents have against cannabis farms is the aroma of the flowers. That’s not a typo. It’s interesting because if you’ve ever been to a farm that uses manure as fertilizer (as almost all of them do), you know there is a particular smell that lingers for weeks after the spread, especially on hot humid days, and it’s far from flowery.
Farms in general are not zones of aromatic delight to the nostrils. Farmers know this; so their griping about the smell of anyone’s farm is a little silly.
The town of Greeley, Colorado, is known for its pig farms. (For you city folk who may not realize it, virtually NOTHING smells worse.) Situated 55 miles southwest of Greeley is Boulder. In Boulder it’s common knowledge that, in the winter, if you can smell the pig poop, that means it’s going to snow soon. The wind can carry aromas far, so complaining about the smell of plants is not symptomatic of delusion. However, unlike the overpowering, relentless stench of pig farms, the scent of cannabis only lasts while the plants are flowering—about a fourth of the time or less.
Seeing the pig picture
Seen another way, the increased revenues from taxes will be able to improve our infrastructure and schools; and the economic and health benefits derived from cannabis and its sale make the aroma inconsequential. Maybe, once the farmer’s neighbors start seeing the big-picture benefits, they’ll be able to overlook (“undersmell”?) the flowers.
In addition, there are things the farmers can do, or abstain from doing, to help with more neighborly relations. Not burning their excess crops would be one. Farmers should recognize that most of their neighbors do not want a contact high for themselves, their children, or their animals.
Farmers could also consider planting a border of plants that help absorb odors. Many ferns, spider plants, rubber plants, and palms are great air scrubbers. If your region will allow them to flourish, why not give it a go?
It’s become clear to an ever-increasing number of Americans that cannabis is a fantastic alternative to alcohol, addictive painkillers, NSAIDs, and other, less effective medications that have horrible side effects, for illnesses like Crohn’s, seizures, post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI), and so many other conditions. Farmers may have to hold their noses, but we need to figure out the best ways to make it possible for them to plow ahead and keep up with the growing demand.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amber Boone considers writing the cornerstone of communication. She interviews MMA (mixed martial arts) athletes for CombatPress.com and opines on MMA at FightItOut.com. She’s passionate about helping folks tell their stories and making the world a better place, which includes working to win the freedom of Americans to partake of the herb. When not writing or playing beach volleyball, she can be found at her day job—for now. Follow Amber on Twitter @thruthetrees11.