One of Oklahoma's new generation of 'truck farmers' is announcing his acceptance by the OMMA to become a Medical Marijuana grower. Ben Neal tells KOTV that he has been growing kale, tomatoes, and other vegetables for five years.
"Telling people that I'm a hydroponic farmer, that's the first thing they say, is oh, medical marijuana. And I'm like no, that's not what we do. And it was never part of our business plan,” said Neal. "I guess whenever you get dealt a good hand you got to play your cards."
Now he's doubling down on a new green. Starting with about 400 marijuana plants in a new 3,000-square foot greenhouse.
Neal's Sage Farms uses hydroponics, a 'Dutch Bucket' technology which resembles a laboratory approach more than an old fashion 'dirt farmer'. It has the added benifit of protecting crops from disease and insects, thus reducing any need for chemicals to combate that problem.
We talked with Rep. Scott Fetgatter, whose district includes some of the area's farms. Fetgatter's concerns center around the potential that desperate operations may dump their overstock into the black market. But an even more immediate concern for the next 9 months is the potential that black market cannabis may drift into the licensed dispensaries, because market prices will be artificially high for the first 6 months.
Others dismiss that as both temporal and small compared to the massive black market that currently dominates Oklahoma. The goal of everyone in the legislature and the new cannabis medicine industry is to crush the current black market and the drug cartels who suck untaxed money out of Oklahoma. A temporary glut of legal cannabis might serve the state very well, to drive out the illegal trade.
In the 1930s our nation concluded that Liquor prohibition did little to curb consumption but did great harm by enabling organized crime to cash in on the demand for illicit alcohol.
Neal says he's busy planting and then he'll travel to Colorado to study the operations there. He'll be developing a cannabis processing facility to further refine his agricultural products into oils, and other forms of medicines. The first crops will mature into 'flowering stage in late October. Optimal harvest conditions will arrive several weeks later, depending on the particular strain of cannabis seed that is cultivated.
Neal plans to build three more greenhouses and to hire more workers.
Big Sage Investments is the registered owner of this 4.5 acre development on land near 141st St & 33rd W. Ave, just west of Glenpool, OK. The land is not what one might consider ideal farm land. Surveys say that the land is on a 6% slope. But the Aeroponics technology that Neal operates, creates phenomenal productivity by stacking the crops vertically, and saving every unused drop of water, in a closed cycle and without soil.
In the first 6 months of Sage Farms, the venture was already making news.