Pot Crop 2011

David Downs of the East Bay Express wrote a new piece for his marijuana column, Legalization Nation, discussing this year’s pot crop:

 California’s annual outdoor marijuana crop has come in, and despite global warming and heated federal threats, the harvest looks quite golden. Growers, dispensary operators, and experts say California’s 2011 outdoor is bountiful, cheap, high-quality and more medicinal than in years past.

…More people are growing more ganja than in years past and more of it is being grown outdoors, said Ed Rosenthal, Bay Area author of several cannabis cultivation books.

He says simultaneously that

Cannabis is a seasonal crop in California with an estimated value of $14 billion per year.

and that

Though most of it is thought to be grown indoors nowadays, outdoor crops still go into the soil after the last spring rains.

If it is mostly grown indoors, then there is no reason for it to be considered seasonal. There are huge warehouses of indoor weed but there are acres of outdoor. From my observations, most people from urban areas have no idea how much pot rural areas produce outside in the sun.  Don’t get me wrong, Downs is a knowledgeable observer of the cannabis world. Like many folks he’s just not aware of the quantity of outdoor weed produced.  Of course not all or even most makes its way to the dispensaries.  Cali cannabis is found across the country as the result of black market deals.  Certainly, much of the best stuff is sold as indoor to consumers who think where a weed is grown is more indicative of its quality than what it looks like.

Downs talks about the typical fall in prices as the outdoor crop reaches the market in large quantities. He notes specific prices,

In the medical scene, eighth-ounces – which can go for $55 – are on sale for as low as $35. Ounces which retail for $360 can be found for as little as $200.

Prices have begun falling up here  too, though I still am hearing higher prices this year than I did at the same time last year.  I have heard of one deal as low as $1300 and several others in $1600 per pound range but most are still above the $2000 per pound mark. Though last week’s prices are lower than the week before and I expect the trend to continue until at least February when prices have traditionally climbed again. (Last year was an exception and the trend may continue–prices stayed low until July.)

Downs quotes Ed Rosenthal who believes prices could drop even further than last year.

…price cuts might be even more sharp in the black market, because dispensaries are not hoarding inventory like usual. Federal saber rattling, and efforts to shut down storefront collectives has operators nervous about stocking up, said Rosenthal. When cash-needy growers can’t quickly sell their product, prices drop, he said.

“It’s going to make for very low prices,” said Rosenthal.

In good news for local outdoor growers, Downs points out that customers are becoming friendlier to the idea of “sungrown” cannabis. He says that experts believe that , “The quality of outdoor this year is also rivaling indoor-grown sensimilla…”

The piece is packed with good information.  Anyone interested in the financial impact of cannabis on this county and on their own pocket should read it.


Photo by me made fall of 2010.  Used with permission by EBX


  • I found this article entertaining. They mention below that,
    This year’s outdoor harvest has also been affected by global warming, growers say. “They’re experiencing climate change,” said Bienenstock. “The one thing I’ve been hearing everybody wail about is the weather patterns they’ve been used to and have relied on have not been consistent.”

    The issue I see is that the industrial cannabis industry (indoors and out) contributes disproportionate amounts of co2 emissions and is riddled with hidden costs that we have no way to quantify. It is a classic example of a flawed economic system that ultimately contributes to it’s own demise through externalizing all of it’s social and environmental impacts. The more the market gets flooded– the more that is produced–furthering the hyper-exploitation of resources and ending the thirty+ year party that has graced (and cursed) the Emerald Triangle Region. Interesting times to be experiencing our own reenactment of the “Gold Rush” days.


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