Could recreational marijuana be a new source of funding for PA farmers? 

February 26 – With legalizing marijuana being one of Governor Josh Shapiro’s dreams in his 2024-25 budget, some state department officials are suggesting Pennsylvania farmers could cash in on the idea by growing the crop for the state. 

The Secretary of Agriculture is suggesting this would be a great way to keep farmers going. 

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “We love the families that make farming happen here. Remember my farming friends, we’re talking about the same crowd that wants you pretty much out of business. We don’t want to feed the world here. We certainly want to do away with beef. Those farting cows will get you every single time out there. It’s the same crowd that oh yeah, we’re going to do gaming and that’s going to solve all of our problems here, legalized wagering. It’s the same crowd that wants to limit your chemicals because of the Chesapeake Bay. I think of Ronald Reagan’s line here, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “He said the most dreaded words in the English language. I don’t know if the farming community will make an official position on legalized marijuana. I mean, there certainly could be some benefits to the ag community. I have some clients that when Pennsylvania legalized hemp for production, and it’s heavily regulated, the state limits how many acres can be farmed for hemp per county and you need a permit and it has to be audited and all these other things, but those farmers are making a small fortune on their hemp crops. So I can imagine scenarios where some in the farming community could say they want to repurpose their property to grow marijuana, but like all these things, there’s pros and cons. It would be the unintended consequences and think about the medical marijuana manufacturers in Pennsylvania. They do have facilities where that’s been done. There’s a lot of legal requirements for security, and other regulations in how that’s done. Those are the kinds of details that the farmers would need to examine, to determine if this is something that would be profitable for them or not.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM added, “The criticism of having the Agricultural Department running this as well because of all what you just mentioned, they said they already are handling so much and to give them this very, very complicated entity of legalized marijuana, which I still would hope our legislators will not do because I think we are not looking at the unintended negative consequences of legalized recreational marijuana itself and then trying to say, well, this is how farming can be saved, I find it sad, frankly, that addictive crops are what we’re going to hang our hats on in terms of our economy, in terms of helping farmers. We’re going to be reaping I think the sad harvest down the road of these unintended negative consequences.”

Barkdoll said, “I don’t know what’s involved in a marijuana crop from a large industrial type farming standpoint. I mean, yes, we all know about the Grow labs and these high end operations that you see in a lot of states at these recreational stores. But from a big cash crop standpoint, I’m not sure what all would be involved. I’ve heard from my farmer clients that grow hemp that it’s a very easy crop. They basically just plant it, let it grow for the season and then they harvest it. It does not take a lot of attention like some other crops would. Marijuana, I’m really not sure. Again, that likely could be part of the regulations if the Department of Agriculture is the body that oversees this.”