New Laws, New Hopes, New Worries For Cannabis Farmers
An article earlier this week in the Sacramento Bee grapples with the new issues facing cannabis farmers now that state laws have finally been passed to regulate the marijuana market. While the current laws only deal with medical cannabis, it is no secret they are intended to be in place to help California transition out of the medical marijuana only model. (2016 is widely expected to be the year the Golden State legalizes recreational cannabis.)
Farmers in the article argue that the new laws will have to walk a fine line between regulations that protect the consumer and the environment and rules that are so onerous for the growers that most will opt to stay in the black market. Stephen Dillon, executive manager of the Humboldt Sun Growers Guild is quoted in the article as saying, “If they set up too rigorous of a program then they will not get buy-in, and if they don’t get buy-in nothing has changed…We will continue to have one of the largest black market industries in the country.”
Of course, one of the number one concerns mentioned by the local farmers is that big corporations will grab the market and starve the mom and pop farmers. The article points out that regulations which help maintain quality might be the key to small growers thriving. Another hope that farmers such as the Humboldt Sun Growers Guild have is that branding and defining themselves as producers of the finest buds might help them stay ahead of the big cannabusinesses. A passage in the Bee article talks about a new group of cannabis farmers based in Humboldt. It states,
Then there’s the matter of marketing. The Humboldt Sun Growers Guild already has a product name, True Humboldt, with a slogan (”Since the beginning”) and a sleek website trumpeting its virtues.
“We believe the Humboldt name and history is a big brand,” Dillon said.
The hope is that highlighting the origins, akin to Napa County wines or microbrews, will boost the value of the product and help smaller farmers compete with larger operations.
The Bee article goes on to discuss some of the other “consequences to legitimization” including tax breaks, farm labor laws, and changes to distribution laws. Growers and those concerned with the changes to the local economy should read the piece here.