DEERFIELD — A bunch of state representatives representing the Joint Committee on Hashish Coverage toured Bar-Means Farm’s hemp discipline on Friday afternoon for an on-the-ground perspective of the trade.
The tour was the ultimate cease on the committee’s journey across the Pioneer Valley’s hemp and hashish industries. The group additionally made stops in Holyoke and on the New England Remedy Entry (NETA) dispensary in Northampton.
Peter Melnik, Bar-Means Farm’s proprietor, gave the legislators a hay-wagon tour round his property, the place he thanked the legislators for popping out, but additionally highlighted a few of the challenges of working inside Massachusetts’ rules on his 30-acre hemp discipline.
“The foundations and rules, for a layman like me, they make no sense,” Melnik mentioned. “We as a rustic must recover from the truth that hemp just isn’t marijuana.”
Whereas on the wagon trip, Melnik talked in regards to the stringent testing and harvesting insurance policies the state has in place. Every pattern taken by the state will need to have 0.3 % or much less THC in it; in any other case it can’t be offered. If a discipline has three “scorching” exams in a row, the sector should be destroyed. The sphere should even be harvested inside 15 days of the check; in any other case, it should be destroyed. He mentioned the state supervises the destruction and it’s a waste of a usable useful resource, however they must play by the principles.
“Massachusetts type of stumbles in harvesting,” Melnik mentioned. “We actually simply put our head down and gamble.”
He added that the state is “toeing the federal line” in relation to regulation — marijuana remains to be unlawful federally — and he mentioned he will get the sensation the state makes it troublesome to develop hemp, regardless of its variations from marijuana.
“I really feel just like the state is attempting to make me a prison,” Melnik mentioned. “I’m only a farmer attempting to develop a crop.”
Past the difficulties of state rules, Melnik mentioned the “wealthy soil” of Franklin County is a good place to develop hemp and the plant has “numerous potential” to turn into one of many nation’s main exports together with staples like corn.
“Massachusetts goes to be a spot, the Pioneer Valley goes to be a spot the place hemp is grown,” Melnik mentioned. “I applaud the Legislature and governor for believing hemp may be grown in Massachusetts.”
Bar-Means Farm sends all of its hemp harvests to Heritage CBD in Northampton. Melnik mentioned the corporate does numerous its enterprise outdoors of Massachusetts due to rules and it’s “sitting on a whole lot of hundreds of gallons of hemp oil.”
Melnik began rising hemp in 2019 and noticed it as one other alternative to maintain the farm rising, which was in keeping with how his great-grandfather grew onions, his grandfather grew tobacco and the way his dad is a “cow man.”
“This farm has achieved plenty of various things,” Melnik mentioned. “This isn’t Iowa, so we’ve to maximise what we’ve.”
State Rep. Daniel Donahue, D-Worcester, who’s the Home chair of the Joint Committee on Hashish Coverage, mentioned it was his first time touring a hemp farm and he’s “wanting ahead to all of the successes” of the trade.
Donahue added that the tour was an opportunity to see how precise farmers had been affected by laws and gave some concepts on the right way to assist them navigate the rules.
“(The tour will assist) draft up extra rules and make it a extra profitable a part of our agriculture,” Donahue mentioned. “We’re holding a bunch of hearings and this provides us a concrete perspective on any legislative fixes.”
State Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, mentioned the cease at Bar-Means Farm was not initially part of the committee’s itinerary, however she organized it as a result of she felt the representatives wanted to see it to finest perceive the trade.
“That is the place it’s a must to go. It’s essentially the most revolutionary hemp farm,” Blais mentioned. “I made a promise to convey Boston to Western Mass. and it’s so necessary for them to see this work.”
Chris Larabee may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-930-4081.