Medical marijuana gardens suffering after lengthy, hot summer

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The start of fall this past weekend brought relief not just for heat-stricken Colorado residents, but for their indoor medical marijuana gardens as well.

Cannabis grows across the Front Range have been suffering from heat stress, bug issues and mold problems, resulting in a decrease in summer production that has some medical marijuana dispensaries either limiting how much marijuana non-members can purchase or simply halting non-member sales altogether.

Ry Prichard, founder of Colorado-based KindReviews.com, gets into medical marijuana dispensary gardens regularly to photograph flowers in bloom for his website, and he's seen the damage firsthand. This summer wasn't unique just for the heat, he explains; the surplus of herb that Colorado was enjoying at this time last year is nonexistent this year because of massive shifts in the industry.

"Basically, people got into grows that were either not set up fully or too big for their A/C units, and it's been a summer of heat-stressed plants, [powdery mildew] and bugs," he says. "Most summers are like that, but this one was particularly hot and brutal, and lots of centers were in transition because of the fed letters, license transfers, etc. Lots of people are selling their shops and grows to get out of the game, and the people buying them have no idea what problems existed there and how poor the environment was."

Prichard also says he's seen a lot of pest problems in gardens that aren't being addressed, adding that it's becoming an industry-wide issue.

"Even very on-point shops that I've normally never seen [powdery mildew and other pests] with were having issues this year, " he said. "People are so short on meds that scrapping a whole room that got bugs is just not happening, because they'd have to close their shop for two months. As a result, the wholesale that's going around is something I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. Many good shops are forced to buy that shit and put it on their regular menu with regular prices and they're losing customers as a result."

I've noticed this msyelf when reviewing centers. A couple of weeks ago, I visited The Retreat, which had some very underwhelming strains on the shelf that owners chalked up to a rough summer. And last month, when I went to check Denver's Higher Ground, the shop was down to only two strains on the shelves. It's been able to restock to some degree since then, but Higher Ground's shortages were indicative of a larger problem in the industry. Numerous patients have told us that they think the lack of surplus meds currently has forced some shops to raise prices on cannabis.

Other shops, like the Clinic, have limited non-member purchases to small amounts and are capping a number of strains at an eighth max per non-member. As for Denver Relief, owner Ean Seeb says his staff didn't think it was fair to raise prices on non-members, as some shops had been doing. So instead, the center has suspended sales of flowers and concentrates to non-members altogether. Non-members can still purchase edibles and vaporizer products, he explained.

"We have a priority to provide medicine to those who have asked us to grow for them," he adds. "Our first priority is to serve those patients. We recognize that it's not an ideal situation, but we're doing our best to accommodate everyone."

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical-marijuana-is-illegal ruling impacts new case, prompts letter to state, federal leaders" and "Marijuana: Amendment 64 opponents, backers fueled by controversial out-of-state money"; "Medical marijuana: Guide to mold, mildew and mites will help you discover what's in your ganja."

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