Since the spurt of hemp as an industrial product, it is by far growing exponentially in the world of manufacturing, drugs, food, and beverages. However, hemp cultivators in recent times have felt the need to increase their safety and security precautions.
More people are trying to steal the valuable crop as black markets grow in numbers. This situation is alarming for hemp producers and cultivators alike as it pushes them to take adequate precautions. This can also cause hindrances in production and reduce the total yield of crop.
Theft on the rise: A Threat to Hemp Markets
Hemp markets are being affected greatly. Especially when you look at it with a micro-economic perspective. Lone retailers suffer immense losses due to the recent theft that has been taking place in hemp fields.
An approximate of 200 to 300 plants are stolen on average from these fields. This is not just an economic loss but also gives rise to illegal activity involving hemp. This worsens the case for hemp being a legal industrial raw material in each state.
The theft is also raising costs for hemp farmers. There is a need to hire security personnel and get the equipment for surveillance of fields. This involves cameras, drones, and inspection rooms.
Security Measures to Safeguard Hemp Farmers
A farm in Medford has recently come across a theft that has cost them $20,000 in revenue. This can greatly affect how the business operates. Cultivators must do a cost-benefit analysis of employing resources towards security as it can impact their yearly profits.
Medford farms are now employing drones that will help with surveillance of fields. Nicolas Vanderway, owner of NV farms in Medford talks more about his drone surveillance. He says, “That (drone) does infrared. That’s what we are using. So, if anyone comes in our fields, we will have a certified pilot in our office that if someone comes in our field, we will know right away.”
These security measures are vital as most farms range from 100 to 150 acres of land. Such vast land is difficult to secure. However, the threat that comes from these thefts in much larger when translated into revenue loss.
Vanderway also talked about how the hiring of guards did not lead to the result they were hoping for. He states, “Last year we had guards in all of our fields. Those 100s of plants were still stolen.” This states the urgency that new and improved methods of security need to be employed. These methods should function better than human surveillance since that alone is not adequate to prevent these thefts.
How these thefts affect local Hemp Markets
Firstly, it is important to get at the bottom of why these thefts occur. The theory here is that industrial hemp is still very easily confused with marijuana. People who steal it have the purpose of reselling it as a drug in black markets.
However, industrial hemp has trace amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). That is the psychoactive element of hemp plants. It is completely inert when it comes to giving you any sort of ‘high.’ For this purpose, farmers now have signs all around their plantations that warn people of the difference between hemp and marijuana.
Vanderway talks more about the problem, stating, “They think it’s marijuana still. I mean the public has to know that this plant is hemp. Hemp doesn’t get you high” Vanderway also hopes that the added signs, drones and security makes a difference to the rate of theft that has been happening recently.
Austin Zenner, a leading farmer in the company, also seemed frustrated regarding the issue. It is almost like all their efforts did not get them the results they expect. He highlights how there is a massive difference in THC contents of industrial hemp and marijuana.
If they both were the same, then “They could get hemp seeds themselves and grow it in their backyard if they’re like.” These plants are later sold to black markets and dealers in hopes that it can be passed on like a drug.
Overall, there are hopes that these thefts will decrease instead of spreading to other areas. These actions by hemp farmers in Medford can help other farmers in the vicinity to safeguard their interests.
It is also something hemp cultivators in all states should take measures against, to prevent illegal activity and prevent losses. There is a need to run campaigns that highlight the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana.
It will raise the trust people to have in hemp products and will establish a line between its drug counterpart, that is marijuana. However, cultivators hope to have this problem under control soon.