AVON, N.Y. — There are currently 21 states that have legalized recreational marijuana and data is beginning to show how that's impacting communities.
A recent Gallup poll shows the percentage of young adults who smoke cannabis has increased by 5% since 2018. Another poll from YouGov shows 52% say they have tried marijuana. That's the highest number ever in the country's history. Eight years ago that number sat at 40%.
Now, factor in that the total U.S. cannabis supply is expected to top 48 million pounds when all the 2022 numbers are analyzed, and it's easy to see that the marijuana business is booming.
It's opening up opportunities for many businesses, even those not directly involved in cannabis. That includes an upstate New York company called Worm Power where Ted Miller oversees 12 million red wigglers inside six metal containers.
“My job is to make sure that they're happy and healthy and getting everything they need to thrive," said Miller, the company's director of operations.
The worms are workers — part of a process called vermicomposting.
“Vermicomposting is the process by which you take worms to process a feedstock and harvest what the worms produce," said Miller. "We call it worm-worked material.”
It’s not just what the worms eat, but also the microbial content on the outside of their bodies. Sold in solid and liquid form, the worm power products are organic nutrients for plants designed to increase the health and size of roots.
“We're on professional golf courses all over the country and in fact, all over the world," Miller said. "We're on golf courses in Japan, in South Korea. We're on soccer pitches in Europe.”
Miller says the product has been found to enhance flavor in berries and herbs like basil.
It's also beneficial for cannabis plants.
“Consequently cannabis, an increase in terpene content, which is the aroma, it provides the aromas and things like that," Miller said. "We also saw from university studies, a tremendous increase in THC, Delta 9 THC.”
With legalized marijuana in New York and many other states, the liquid form of Worm Power has a whole new market.
Miller says farmers who use the vermicomposting product use less fertilizer, which is a benefit to the environment.
“It's made our product, a real benefit to growers who are seeking alternatives.”
Like 12 million worms living just beneath the surface.
“We have to be a little careful because there's a chance that you can start sounding like snake oil, you know, we were all things to all people," said Miller. "But really, there have been very few crops that we've been applied to that there hasn't been some noticeable benefit. It’s really just a question of getting ourselves into the hands of the people who need us most.”