Volunteers harvest hemp at a farm in Springfield, Colo. in October 2013 in a during the first known harvest of industrial hemp in the U.S. since the 1950s. Expanded hemp growing will be happening in 2014 with the advent of state licensing. (P. Solomon Banda, Associated Press file)

Cannabist Q&A: Pollen worries, shopping advice, warning labels

Welcome to our Ask The Cannabist column. Clearly you have questions about marijuana, be it a legal concern, a health curiosity, a Colorado-centric inquiry or something more far-reaching. Check out our expansive, 64-question Colorado marijuana FAQ first, and if you’re still curious, email your question to Ask The Cannabist at askthecannabist@gmail.com.

Hey, Cannabist!
If I was a grower, I would be very upset about anyone growing hemp on large fields, because of pollen drifting onto my sensimilla plants and ruining my seedless strain. Is there any concern out there?  –Gary Ganja Grower

Hey, Gary!
Yes, hemp is now a licensed agriculture crop in Colorado and marijuana growers have a real concern with pollen from industrial hemp plants cross-pollinating marijuana. Marijuana flowers, as you know, are unpollinated female plants, and cross pollination will essentially ruin the marijuana by making seeds.

I asked Canada-based international hemp agriculture consultant Anndrea Hermann for more information.  “According to pedigree hemp production regulation in Canada, a range up to 5,000 meters (3 miles) are required for isolation between different pedigree and different cultivars,” Hermann said.

Hemp is pollinated primarily by wind.  Hermann said most pollen travels about 100 yards.  But depending on the weight and size of pollen and other natural conditions, wind-borne pollen can travel for miles, up to 2,000 miles away from the source. Hermann states, if the wind blow towards the marijuana plants, the hemp pollen will find the plants because the male pollen wants to pollinate the females. This is Cannabis Sex 101.

Bees can also pollinate hemp. Bees travel up to 3 miles from the hive.

Another factor is the hemp plants’ growing season. Hermann says “hemp has an indeterminate growth, some plants will be in full seed set while others are just flowering. Other nearby crops maybe finished pollinating and the hemp crop still had pollen. If bees are hungry they will find both cannabis plants.”

What is the solution to what Hermann calls a “natural cannabis cultural clash”?  Basically, grow marijuana 10 miles or more away from hemp.  Hermann clarifies, indoor grows with air filters and environmental controls can be effective, and pretty high tech to protect from pollination.  Ultimately there remains a risk, this is cannabis plant sex we’re talking about! XO

Related: Want to grow your own weed at home? Some basics

Hey, Cannabist!
I haven’t smoked in 15 years but am likely going to try soon in hopes of finding something that would manage my back pain better than all the prescriptions I’ve been taking. Since I’ve never been to a shop, and never met a “budtender” I’m not quite sure what to expect. I will likely need to lean on their expertise more than most, is this something I should tip them? Didn’t know what the etiquette is for this situation. –Posterior Pain Pedro

Hey, Pedro!
It sounds like you are looking for cannabis strains and products to help you with management of a chronic pain condition.  Instead of tipping a recreational budtender for specialized service (tipping is not a standard practice in marijuana centers), plan your center visit and initial purchases ahead of time with a trusted health care professional.

Since you have a medical condition you are seeking treatment for, talk to the health care professionals looking after your well-being. You need to discuss your needs with a trusted, knowledgeable and licensed health care professional who can guide your medical-marijuana treatments and observe changes in your condition.  Healthy Choices Unlimited, a medical marijuana card recommendation service, offers their clients various resources, including dosage recommendations and a gradual treatment plan to find accurate dosing.  For your condition, rely more on the opinions of health care professionals for marijuana strain and product recommendations than the helpful recreational budtender.

Before you go to a marijuana center, do some online research and make some phone calls.  Use The Cannabist map or go to Leafly.com and find a few potential centers to visit. Look at the menus, and call the center and ask any questions you might have.  If you feel satisfied with the response, ask for the best times to shop, so you don’t feel rushed during your visit. I hope you feel better soon.   XO

Strain reviews: Learn more about some of the strains on the market, Green Crack, Grape Skunk, Pre ’98 Bubba Kush, Flo, Tahoe OG, Death Star, Ultra Sonja and more

Hey, Cannabist!
What kind of product warning labels are on marijuana products? –Concerned Citizen from Centennial

Hey, Concerned!
Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division requires warning labels for all marijuana products available at regulated medical and recreational licensed centers in Colorado. The verbiage for medical products is less stringent than recreational products.

Elyse Gordon-Holz, co-owner and chef at Better Baked, a marijuana-infused product (MIP) company, shared the required language used on the warning labels for her company’s line of manufactured medical edibles of sweet breads, mini-pies, cookies and candy. “WARNING: Strong. Keep out of reach of children. Do not operate a vehicle or heavy equipment after consumption. This product is infused with medical marijuana and was produced without regulatory oversight for health, safety or efficacy and there may be health risks associated with consumption of the product. Food processed on equipment that also processes nuts.”

In its plant form, marijuana purchases from licensed centers have required warnings too. Christie Lunsford, operations manager at 3D Cannabis Center shared the warning label applied to 3D’s packaging for recreational sales, which comply with the MED regulations (see R 1005). “This package is sealed in a child resistant container. This product is intended for use by adults 21 years and older. Keep out of reach of children. Do not drive a motor vehicle or operate heavy machinery while using marijuana. This product is unlawful outside the State of Colorado. There may be health risks associated with the consumption of this product. There may be additional health risks associated with the consumption of this product for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning on becoming pregnant.”

Next on the label is a listing of the non-organic pesticides, fungicides and herbicides used in the garden. Then the required warning continues: “The marijuana product contained within this package has not been tested for contaminants. The marijuana product contained within this package has not been tested for potency, consume with caution. Recommended dosage 1-2 inhalations, wait 10 minutes before additional inhalation may be needed.”

In addition, all purchases from recreational licensed marijuana centers are required to be secured in “exit packaging.” According to Lunsford, exit packaging is required to be opaque, child resistant and resealable back to a child-resistant state. To be considered child resistant, packaging requires a double action, either pinching and twisting or squeezing and lifting to open.
A perusal of the state regulations show no requirements for idiot proof packaging. That’s more of a self-regulation. XO

Home storage options: 10 ways to keep your stash away from kids