This week, a Massachusetts company announced it had gotten the OK from regulators to plant the East Coast’s first outdoor commercial marijuana crop.
Nova Farms, formerly named Bristol County Wellness Center or BCWC, announced the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission has given it the final approval to plant a crop in Sheffield, a community in the agriculture-friendly western edge of the state.
Metro West Daily News reports that customers should get their hands on the product early next year when a dispensary attached to the farm opens on Route 9.
“Utilizing the natural sun is the best way to grow cannabis,” co-owner Blair Fish told Metro West. “I think that the way that Mother Nature intended things to be was outdoors… It’s just that the climate in New England isn’t suitable to do that, so people have learned to grow indoors, and they really haven’t explored the outdoor option.”
The company started in January 2017 and initially planned to grow an indoor crop. Given that they now have the only outdoor crop licensed in the state so far, their price point is likely to be super competitive against the exclusively indoor offerings currently available. And of course, the lack of an electric bill isn’t just awesome for consumers at the tail end, it’s also great for the environment.
Nova Farms may not have the market cornered for long. Regulators have also given Theory Wellness permission to get the ball rolling in collaboration with a Sheffield farmer, but they are yet to receive the final approval Nova Farms just checked off its list.
Fish said the Nova Farms will be allowed to cultivate up to 80,000 square feet of canopy this year. If all goes to plan, they are hoping to harvest between 5,000 to 6,000 pounds this fall.
The First Outdoor Grow in the East Coast?
Fish also noted that Nova Farms is likely the first commercial outdoor cannabis crop on the East Coast.
The first “legal” cannabis crop on the East Coast might be considered the farm at the University of Mississippi, producing the questionable herb that the National Institute for Drug Abuse uses in U.S.-based cannabis research, though Mississippi isn’t technically considered a part of the East Coast region.
We reached out to the National Cannabis Industry Association to ask if they had heard of anyone cultivating outside on the East Coast, they confirmed our suspicions and Fish’s claim that it was indeed likely true Nova Farms has the first such grow. NCIA Media Director Morgan Fox went on to explain what the milestone means for the Massachusetts market.
“The regulated cannabis market is moving in the right direction towards sustainability by increasingly embracing outdoor and greenhouse cultivation,” Fox told Cannabis Now. “As more states enact sensible cannabis policies and this option is made easier to pursue in already legal markets, and as lighting technology continues to improve, we will be able to decrease the energy consumption required for cannabis cultivation on a massive scale.”
Mike Crawford has been a Massachusetts cannabis activist for over 15 years and frequently offers commentary on the industry as a patient advocate. He said he is concerned with the production costs going down in the supply chain, meaning that consumers on the end will see little benefit of the cut costs from outdoor cultivation, due to the general lack of access to shops and resulting lack of competition.
“Until more shops open, I still feel like even if this harvest were to come out and we got it in November, I still feel like the price just is not going to come down that much,” Crawford told Cannabis Now.
Crawford believes the cost to open a dispensary in Massachusetts forces shops to charge top dollar when the doors finally get open.
We asked Crawford what he thought consumers had to gain from the outdoor crop coming to the state. “I think people will be able to get some real organic product, that sounds very interesting,” he said. “Right now, I don’t think a lot of what we’re getting in dispensaries is organic.”
Crawford believes most of the cannabis transactions in the state still happen on the underground market.
TELL US, would you buy East Coast outdoor cannabis?