To The Herald-Whig:
Napa Valley, Calif., government recently passed a law banning the growing of marijuana in vineyards. Apparently, pesticides and fungicides used by marijuana growers are damaging the grape harvest.
One vintner reported she lost an entire chardonnay crop because fungicide spray from a close marijuana farm drifted over into her vineyard. Then how are these chemicals impacting marijuana workers in the field? The Napa Valley ban has a price tag. According to a vineyard appraiser I met with this month in Santa Barbara County, Calif., marijuana growers are leasing land in vineyards. The going price for raising marijuana between rows of grapes is "$20,000 per acre, PER MONTH, in cash!"
Napa Valley vineyards have a higher value on a pesticide-free grape crop. The Napa Valley Farm Bureau is opposing the expansion of commercial cultivation of marijuana. Merlot wine is more important.
Issues of importance are emerging.
1. If pesticides and fungicides used in marijuana production are seriously damaging agriculture crops like grapes, what are these chemicals doing to the workers in the fields? Is this a new Roundup health crisis?
2. Can Illinois crops (i.e. soybeans, corn, wheat) suffer damage from a neighbor's pot field using pesticides and fungicides? Where is the liability? Would crop insurance cover such damage? Doubtful.
3. Is Illinois-grown marijuana guaranteed to be free of pesticides and fungicides before it reaches recreational pot stores? Is there any Illinois legislation for testing? The FDA is certainly not testing the pot crops.
4. The money. Even in California, $20,000 per acre per month CASH rent is a lot of money. National banks do not track this kind of money because growing or selling marijuana is still illegal under federal laws. Then who is tracking this enormous cash flow? The Mexican drug cartel has made inroads into Northern California with large amounts of cash. Is Illinois next?
Warren Winston, RPH