Saturday, April 20, 2024

Hemp-based cannabis production, sales thrive on both sides of Mississippi River despite patchwork of laws

From The Journal

Depending what side of the Mississippi River you find yourself on, your ability to purchase legal marijuana is drastically different. As of August 2023, Minnesota residents can buy, grow and use marijuana as long as they are 21 or older. Wisconsin still criminalizes the plant.

Despite different legal status, marijuana is still not widely available in Minnesota yet. The legal change is very new to the state, and licenses for dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana are still a ways down the line.

“They’re looking at starting to issue licenses early next year. Hopefully sooner, but looking at next spring,” said Harry Penner, co-founder of Ripple Leaf Farms in Winona, Minnesota. “We’re looking to get a license that would allow us to have a small grow area and also retail.”

Until then, both Minnesota and Wisconsin remain on the same page regarding what is commercially available. Smoke shops and dispensaries sell cannabis products that legally qualify as hemp, not marijuana, even if they can have similar effects.

CBD and CBG products are seen at The Rippled Leaf in Winona in May 2023. While marijuana is now legal for recreational use in Minnesota, the drug is not widely commercially available in the state.

Growing in Wisconsin

In the back lot of what once was the La Crosse Rubber Mills, a major growing operation develops the raw ingredient that props up the industry. Fans line the ceilings of the grow rooms, blowing moist air containing a strong sweet and earthy aroma that sticks to anything that touches the plants. Green sticky stalks line several rooms, ready to be cut, dried and bagged up as pure buds, pre-rolled joints, gummies, chocolates and more.

Yes, this is cannabis, but it is not marijuana. With careful seed selection and breeding practices, Dan Schmidtknecht and the team at Stacks Family Farms are legally growing hemp. It grows and smokes the same, but with close to none of the chemicals that would constitute it as marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance in Wisconsin.

Cannabis is the overarching term for both hemp and marijuana plants.

Tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC, is the psychoactive component of cannabis that gives users various feelings from euphoria to anxiety. In marijuana, this chemical typically makes up 30-40% of the cannabis plant. In hemp, THC levels are 0.3% or less of the plant.

Read and see more:

No comments: