Canada’s Top Five Cannabis Shops To Check Out In 2022

Canada has been opening some seriously cool cannabis stores around the country in the last few years. Some are making a name for themselves, and here are Canada’s top five cannabis shops to check out in 2022: Canna Cabana  In 2009, Canna Cabana was a bong shop in Calgary with big dreams of being more. […]

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Holiday Fails, Stupid Food & A Weed Wordsearch

It’s a special time of year, all about eating, celebrating, and merrymaking… it’s as if the holidays were made for stoners. Of course, there’s lots of stress involved but lucky we have weed for that. If you could use some extra holiday cheer, look no further. Brighten your spirits with some holiday fails, stupid food […]

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CNN’s Sixth WEED Documentary Features the Benefits of Medical Cannabis for Autism

CNN announced on November 22 that it would be airing the sixth installment of its cannabis series, WEED 6: Cannabis and Autism, which explores the benefits between medical cannabis and symptoms of patients with autism in its debut this weekend. 

Featuring CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta, this segment follows the traditional format of the previous WEED series to introduce viewers to firsthand experiences with medical cannabis benefits. “Autism, ASD for Autism Spectrum Disorder, is by definition a wide array of behaviors. Whether mild or severe, two core symptoms are social communication challenges and restrictive or repetitive behaviors,” CNN states in a press release. “In WEED 6: Cannabis and Autism, viewers will meet researchers, doctors, and families, some of whom are coming out publicly for the first time, and will see in real-time how life-changing the plant can be for them.”

The first WEED documentary released in 2013, and opened up an entirely new discussion on the stigma of weed. The honest headline of Gupta’s 2013 CNN article “Why I changed my mind on weed” directly opposed his 2009 TIME article “Why I would vote No on Pot.” 

In his 2013 article, Gupta apologizes for letting the cannabis stigma prevent him from seeing the plant’s true potential. “Well, I am here to apologize,” he wrote. “I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.”

In WEED, he brought the spotlight to Charlotte Figi, a young Colorado girl suffering from Dravet syndrome, who found relief with medical cannabis. She sadly passed away in 2020, but her example has inspired many other parents to seek out medical cannabis for their children.

It’s been eight years since that original documentary released, and Gupta has produced a total of six documentaries with a unique perspective on cannabis. In WEED 2: Cannabis Madness (2014) he dove into the complexities of politics when it comes to medical cannabis. WEED 3: The Marijuana Revolution (2015) continued to review the benefits of medical cannabis. WEED 4: Pot vs. Pills (2018) tackled the devastating effects of the opioid crisis, and how medical cannabis can help. Finally WEED 5: The CBD Craze (2019) explored the boom of CBD and the dangers of an unregulated market.

Since 2013, Gupta has been a strong proponent of medical cannabis, but his involvement isn’t limited to the WEED series. Most recently on October 13, 2021, he appeared on an episode of The Joe Rogan Experience where he discussed his stance change on cannabis, and how he publicly came out stating that he was wrong about medical cannabis.

Gupta also provided insight about the problem with many medical studies now being conducted on cannabis. “If you’re just looking at papers—well, this one potential long harm, this one possible addiction, this one gateway—you know, you’re seeing all those individual studies, but at a broader level, one step upstream, you realize that most of the studies that are getting funded are designed to look for harm,” Gupta told Rogan. “When I saw that, that was the first time I thought, ‘well, why are the studies that are getting out there, why are they all designed to look for harm?” he said. “Then I started looking at other countries, and some really good research out of places like Israel in particular.”

WEED 6: Cannabis and Autism will debut on November 28 at 9 p.m. ET on CNN live, and can also be watched on the channel’s live streaming service, CNNgo.

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Interesting Cannabis Facts & A Weed Wordsearch

Sometimes all it can take to brighten up the day is learning something new and trippy… That’s all this is about. In the hope that it brings some joy to your day, here are some random and interesting cannabis facts. There is also a weed wordsearch at the end. The Bard & Bud Shakespeare used […]

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Smoking Weed And Your Rights – A BC Cannabis Consumption Lounge Crossword

In Canada, you can legally buy a joint but there are few places where you can smoke it. At first glance, the issue might seem like a low priority when in fact it’s actually anything but. Smoking weed indoors is a luxury for some and a necessity for others. Clean air bylaws, strata councils and […]

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Getting Busted Around The World – The Consequences Of Cannabis Cultivation Crossword Puzzle

There are a lot of plants that only grow in certain places around the world, but thankfully, cannabis is not one of them. Certain strains thrive in particular climates and we often recognize it in the name, for example, Durban Poison or Afghan Kush. They call it weed for a reason; basically, this plant can […]

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Curbside Recreational Weed Pickups End in Massachusetts

Cannabis dispensaries in Massachusetts will no longer be permitted to offer curbside pickup of recreational marijuana purchases to their customers after state regulators allowed an emergency rule permitting the practice to expire. 

At a meeting of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission on September 17, regulators voted to extend some emergency regulations put in place at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, including a rule that allows medical marijuana patients to receive recommendations from their physician via a telemedicine appointment. The commission also voted to continue curbside cannabis purchase pickups for medical marijuana patients but declined to extend a similar authorization for adult-use cannabis customers.

Decision Ends Pandemic-Era Rule

Cannabis dispensaries in Massachusetts were barred from making sales of recreational marijuana for two months under an executive order issued in March 2020 by Governor Charlie Baker that directed nonessential businesses to close to help stem the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. 

Medical marijuana dispensaries were deemed essential businesses, however, and allowed to remain open with special safety precautions including social distancing and curbside pickup put in place. Shops supplying both medical marijuana and recreational cannabis were directed to serve registered patients only. Sales of recreational marijuana resumed the following May with similar restrictions in place, including social distancing and curbside pickup for most transactions.

“The Cannabis Control Commission, with the cooperation of licensees, municipalities, and most importantly, registered qualifying patients, has demonstrated that we are effectively able to preserve public health and safety through curbside operations and other emergency protocols,” CCC executive director Shawn Collins said at the time. “I am confident that our adult-use licensees and their customers will adapt just the same when they reopen under similar protocols next week.”

Leave the Kids at Home

Only a week after curbside pickup of adult-use cannabis began, however, the commission clarified that customers picking up recreational marijuana orders could not have children with them in the car. At a June 2020 CCC meeting, commissioner Britte McBride said that state law forbids people younger than 21 from being on the premises of cannabis retailers and argued that vehicles used for pickup transactions are included in the restriction.

“It states really explicitly in the statute what our obligation is,” McBride said. “For me, that’s the beginning and the end.”

Commissioner Jen Flanagan also opposed allowing children in vehicles making pickups at cannabis dispensaries and said that recreational marijuana is not an essential service.

“While I understand that parents may be having difficulty accessing this product, given the circumstances that we’re currently in… I don’t believe that anyone under 21 should be in the car,” Flanagan said. “I’m sorry, this is not something that is absolutely necessary. This is not food… we’re talking about a choice a parent is making.”

Emergency Rules Expired this Month

The emergency regulations for cannabis dispensaries were based on a state of emergency declared by Baker’s 2020 executive order. When the governor rescinded the state of emergency declaration in May of this year, the CCC voted to extend the authorizations for curbside pickups and telemedicine appointments until September 1, a deadline that passed without action from the commission until the meeting on September 17.

Members of the commission noted that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues with the Delta variant raging across the country, it may still be unsafe for some medical marijuana patients to pick up their purchases in person.

“Patients may not be comfortable just yet entering a dispensary,” Collins said at this month’s meeting.

Although he acknowledged that adult-use cannabis customers may also still be wary about making in-store purchases, Collins noted that lawmakers passed legislation authorizing home delivery of recreational marijuana late last year. 

In June, the CCC began accepting applications for home delivery of recreational marijuana under a program that prioritizes social equity applicants who want to enter the regulated cannabis industry. While delivery is not yet available in all areas of Massachusetts, Collins said that new delivery operators are being approved every month.

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The Cannabis Question Looks at Weed and the Body and Brain

The more cannabis becomes accepted in the U.S., the more frustrating it becomes that cannabis researchers are barred by Schedule I status and cannot freely research, as well as that communities of color remain more at-risk for incarceration. The new PBS and NOVA documentary The Cannabis Question tackles both problems in one, succinct film. 

The film looks at what scientists have discovered so far about the body and brain, as well as the potential medical benefits and risks of using cannabis and how people of color have been harmed by its criminalization. Released on September 29 of this year, the film takes an unbiased and fair look at the way cannabis has been treated. 

“A majority of Americans now live in states where cannabis is legal. As more people make their own choices about cannabis use, this film explores what scientists have learned so far about the potential benefits and risks,” said NOVA Co-Executive Producer Julia Cort in a press release.

“We hope The Cannabis Question will inspire people to join the national conversation about cannabis—informed by the science, and also by the story of how the plant has been weaponized against marginalized communities, causing irreparable harm.”

Yasmin Hurd of Mount Sinai Hospital – Courtesy WGBH

The film looks at scientists Yasmin Hurd at Mount Sinai Hospital and Daniele Piomelli at University of California, Irvine. Both researchers are heading up studies on the endocannabinoid system. By sharing the personal stories of patients and users, the documentary uses a mix of science and emotional appeal to shake the stigma against weed. 

“Such research is critical on a number of levels,” Hurd told High Times. “First, the endocannabinoid system, through which cannabis mediates its actions, is a critical biological system in the brain. It has a broad role in numerous brain functions relevant to cognition, memory, emotion, hormonal regulation and motor behavior and thus is highly implicated in various neuropsychiatric disorders. 

“Moreover, the endocannabinoid system is critical for hardwiring of the developing brain. As such it is important to understand the impact of cannabis exposure especially as THC concentrations have dramatically increased over the years thus leading to far greater perturbation of the endocannabinoid system over its normal physiological bandwidth. In addition, given the neuromodulatory role of endocannabinoids in the brain, it is important to study whether cannabis/cannabinoids can be leveraged to modulate neuropsychiatric disorders.

According to the Director of The Cannabis Question, Sarah Holt, the film is the first of its kind to closely examine the scientific research on how cannabis interacts with humans’ endocannabinoid systems. 

I hope viewers will come away with an understanding of why [the endocannabinoid system] is one of the most important regulatory systems in our body—and anytime you use cannabis, you are interfering with it,” Holt stated in a press release. This isn’t Holt’s first dive into filmmaking to uncover and share scientific data about how drugs interact with the brain. 

“In 2018, I produced a NOVA film called Addiction,” Holt told High Times. “The film investigated how opioid drugs alter the brain, and why addiction should be viewed as a brain disorder that can be successfully managed with evidence-based treatments. As more Americans favor legalizing cannabis, NOVA and I agreed it was time to investigate the latest science studying the vast array of chemicals in this plant. 

“Scores of clinical trials were underway exploring the potential medical benefits or risks of cannabis. Instead of anecdotal stories, the hope was that our film could report on real data to help viewers make informed decisions about cannabis.”

Courtesy WGBH

The film focuses on how cannabis benefits patients with conditions like PTSD, anxiety and pain. It also traces the history of cannabis criminalization throughout the U.S., including the racist history of the word “marijuana” and the demonization of undocumented people throughout the War on Drugs. It specifically focuses on the stories of those who have done or are still doing hard time for cannabis possession. 

“I hope the film helps people understand the larger context and impacts of our drug policies,” Holt said about the movie. “A public health crisis has been unfolding for decades—caused by the war on drugs. The film highlights the influence of racism in forming US policy and its implementation around cannabis over the last century. Cannabis arrests are fueling mass incarceration in this country, and disproportionately targeting communities of color. Incarceration dramatically affects people’s health, and conviction records make it difficult for people to get jobs. 

“At the same time that we have an estimated 40,000 Americans behind bars for cannabis charges, the cannabis wellness industry is thriving, creating a stark divide. I’m hoping that this film widens people’s perspective on cannabis and helps them see how science could inform policy in ways that are both more equitable and beneficial to public health.”  

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Growers in the Emerald Triangle are Facing a Potential Extinction Event

“This is an extinction event,” Johnny Casali, owner of Huckleberry Hill Farms, a cannabis farm in southern Humboldt County, said over the phone. “Things are really, really bad.”

Casali is referring to a recent wholesale price collapse in California’s outdoor-grown cannabis market. 

This time last year, a pound of the best quality sun-grown, light dep weed on the market cost between $1,200 to 1,600, according to Chris Anderson, founder of Humboldt County-based distributor Redwood Roots and a former cannabis farmer himself. Wider wholesale prices settled between $800 to 1,000 per pound.

Now, the same quality cannabis is fetching as low as $400 to 600 a pound and “going downhill,” though some outdoor growers are still getting in the $800-1,000 range, Anderson explained. That is for the best outdoor pot money can buy, “fresh, sun-grown, light dep,” which he said is genuinely limited and harder to find. 

Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

For contrast, Anderson says that indoor-grown “shitty, low end” flower is fetching around $1,000/pound, up to $3,000/pound for the best “designer, truly AAA, best indoor pot in the industry.” He added that lower quality pot, whether indoor or outdoor grown, exists in nearly “endless” quantities.

Data firms like Leaflink have not yet registered a price drop. A representative for Leaflink said it’s too soon to see definitive or robust data for this summer’s outdoor price drops.

That’s just in the legal market. Elsewhere in the country, pounds of the same pot trades at higher multiples in the illegal market, in some cases reaching upwards of $5,000. Supply and demand still rule the day, Anderson said, followed by quality. Indoor pot always fetches higher prices and outdoor lower, owing to outdoor weed’s relative lack of potency compared with top-shelf indoor, as well as its potentially variable appearance.

The decline in pricing, which began at the beginning of June, is expected to get worse as the cannabis harvest season proliferates and finishes in late October and November.

Emerald Triangle
Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

Following that, a remaining glut of outdoor-grown cannabis from last year’s and this year’s harvests is expected to keep prices low for “at least the next couple of years,” said Anderson. By that point, industry insiders say, many small farmers could be all but wiped off the legal cannabis cultivation map.

The immediate cause is a lingering market surplus from last year’s grow—a supply that has proved to be too large to be absorbed by the legal market.

In years past, since outdoor cannabis is not harvested during the winter, an autumn harvest will supply the market for several months. Come spring, supply is lower, therefore, prices are typically higher. Late spring and early summer are when the first rounds of harvest—referred to as “light deps” for the cultivation technique employed (which involves light deprivation)—typically begin. From there, prices begin to drop, usually to more reasonable levels. The harvest continues and the cycle begins anew.

This year, farmers are beginning a new harvest with last year’s cannabis still in hand. The expected spring price drop never came, which signaled to small farmers that something was seriously wrong. 

Fast-forward to now, after the first rounds of deps, and farmers are realizing that not only could they not sell last year’s weed, but they will have to sell this year’s crop at a steep loss if they are able to sell it at all. Off the record, many growers commented that this is the weed that ends up on the illegal market.

“This state has an over-production problem,” said Natalynne DeLapp, executive director of the Humboldt County Growers Alliance. She explained that owing to the local control provision of Proposition 64, so many municipalities in California have opted out of allowing sales and distribution within their limits that there simply are not enough places to sell the amount of legal cannabis grown in the state. 

Emerald Triangle
Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

“Currently, there are 1,775 acres of cannabis licensed by the state, which conservatively produces more than six million pounds of cannabis,” Delapp said. “CDFA [California Department of Food and Agriculture] has estimated in its Standard Regulatory Impact Analysis in 2017 that California likely consumes 2.5 million pounds of cannabis. Not all cannabis consumed in California is purchased at legal retailers, so a very conservative estimate is that we’re producing twice what the legal market can consume, but in reality it’s probably worse than that.”

That 2.5 million number, Delapp explained, is the “only and ‘best’ number we have from the state back in 2017.” She added that the state’s opacity and not releasing data from METRC, the tracking system, that shows what amount of cannabis is legally sold in licensed retail shops is part of the problem.

At the same time, the state and its counties continue to issue cultivation licenses, the fees from which produce revenue for municipalities. As the number of growers increases in size, so does the amount of cannabis being produced, but the pool of would-be legal customers isn’t following in lockstep.

Bigger cultivators pose a very specific problem. In addition to flooding the market with large amounts of cannabis, driving down prices, they are also able to sustain market fluctuations, seeing as they are highly capitalized. 

According to industry insiders, like DeLapp and Genine Coleman of legacy grower advocacy organization Origins Council, larger cultivators weren’t supposed to be able to participate in the legal market until 2023, but the provision that granted small farmers a five-year-long head start in the market was scrapped just as Prop 64 was passed.

“It’s basically systemically dysfunctional,” said Coleman. “As for prices, the lowest I heard was $275. But that was a month ago. The thing to remember is that that farmer is paying a $150-per-pound cultivation tax,” she added, citing a harsh truth that applies to every cultivator regardless of what price per pound their weed ends up being sold for.

Coleman also lays out immediate solutions that she and others in California’s small grower community say would provide meaningful relief.

Emerland Triangle
Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

“Between COVID, the fires, that reality [of crashing market prices], and the budget process unfolding, there could be some legislation and a trailer bill. There could be temporary actions taken while time is taken to sort out a broader policy issue,” Coleman said, referring to a potential temporary moratorium on issuing cultivation licenses, as well as amending the cultivation tax, which are two fixes many growers say they would gladly welcome.

“From our perspective, the most immediate thing that can happen is some kind of tax restructuring, that at least offers temporary relief from the cultivation tax. Because the rest of the supply chain is better positioned than small farmers, in particular,” Coleman said. She added that these larger operations are also much more equipped to handle compliance as it relates to state regulations, like the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), from both a manpower perspective and a monetary one.

“The next order of business is, ‘What can be done for market expansion?’ The lateral growth in the retail sector is unacceptable and can’t carry the production trajectory that we have,” Coleman explained. She said that larger-scale operations continue to come online and everyone in the industry is preparing for an eventual interstate market that doesn’t exist yet while at the same time there has been a contraction of customer access.

For Coleman’s part, she is on the board of the Alliance for Sensible Markets, another advocacy organization that has been in conversation with a number of states to evaluate interstate compacts and prospective trade between legalized states. Nothing has been decided on that front as of yet, but she indicated that news was coming soon.

As for the state, Nicole Elliott, director of the Department of Cannabis Control, shared, “The Administration has always been committed to supporting small and legacy businesses in the cannabis market, as evidenced by a number of the policies and programs that have been pursued and implemented in our 2.5 years in office.”

Elliot points to the creation of a standalone state department, the Department of Cannabis Control, which recently consolidated from three separate state agencies to help simplify the administration of regulated commercial cannabis businesses. She says this includes a “sustained focus on streamlining licensing processes and regulatory requirements. All of this is being done with an eye towards making it easier for businesses, particularly small businesses, to operate within the legal, regulated market.”

Elliott added that the state’s budget, which is enjoying a $75.7 billion surplus this year, allocated $100 million for a Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program. 

“These grants specifically target regions with high numbers of small farmers and was structured in a way that really sought to preserve significant funding locations with legacy small cultivators that often have unique regulatory needs,” Elliott said. She also adds that some legacy operators in the Emerald Triangle are also equity beneficiaries who receive funds from a $35.5 million Local Equity Grant Program and $30 million for fee waivers and deferrals.

Both Coleman and DeLapp said they appreciate this cash injection from the Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program but that the money is already earmarked for other projects. Specifically, DeLapp said that in Humboldt County, they are looking to use it to bulk up water storage systems, which addresses the other looming catastrophe of climate change. Across the board, cultivators and their advocates say the state needs to do more. Halting the cultivation tax and enacting a moratorium on new cultivation licenses appears to be at the top of everyone’s lists.

There are other longer-term measures the state and industry advocates have taken, like the recent ratification of Senate Bill 67, which creates appellations of origin for cannabis grown in specific geographic areas. This is expected to increase tourism and provide an extra layer of education and protection around legacy growing areas that believe their cannabis is unique to where it’s grown. In an age where interstate commerce looms, it should be a huge boon—who from further afield is not going to want to buy California weed? But it’s not expected to meaningfully take effect for at least a couple of years.

Meanwhile, back in the Emerald Triangle, farmers are hurting. DeLapp says this is not only a likely “extinction event” for small legacy farmers but that it’s one of several. Back before Prop 64 passed, there were a number of cultivators who jumped ship, claiming they knew the bloodbath to come. Just after legalization was another when small farms struggled to find the capital and manpower to get and stay licensed. This outdoor price collapse is expected to be another.

Jackie McGowan, who is currently running as a candidate in Governor Newsom’s recall election, told us that she’s running specifically because she knew “at least four” grower friends of hers who died by suicide since the beginning of June 2021, owing to the price collapse. Her despair over the lives of her friends and colleagues, as well as the state of the industry, is what has compelled her to run, she said.

Coleman said that, apart from the injustice done to the small farmers who quite literally began and weathered cannabis cultivation in the United States throughout prohibition and into the legal area by allowing them to fail at this critical juncture, there are other potential losses to consider should small farmers be forced out of business.

“Something I’m always aware of regarding the extinction of small legacy farmers and farming communities is the extinction of a whole bunch of genetics,” Coleman said. “From the broader, more international perspective and especially in the medical realm of cannabis research, that’s a lot of loss in terms of the genetic library that should be researched and preserved. For an annual plant, in particular, it happens really quickly,” she added soberly.

At the end of the day, the growers and their advocates lay the blame both on the state’s failure to properly implement rules and regulations for a healthy legal cannabis market, as well as the large cultivators who are taking advantage of a law that was, frankly, made just for them.

“We were supposed to have this runway to 2023 before the market was overfilled. We didn’t get that,” DeLapp said.

She added, “What is the state going to do to fix this? Is the plan going to be to just let the legacy regions die?”

Growers in the Emerald Triangle are Facing a Potential Extinction Event

“This is an extinction event,” Johnny Casali, owner of Huckleberry Hill Farms, a cannabis farm in southern Humboldt County, said over the phone. “Things are really, really bad.”

Casali is referring to a recent wholesale price collapse in California’s outdoor-grown cannabis market. 

This time last year, a pound of the best quality sun-grown, light dep weed on the market cost between $1,200 to 1,600, according to Chris Anderson, founder of Humboldt County-based distributor Redwood Roots and a former cannabis farmer himself. Wider wholesale prices settled between $800 to 1,000 per pound.

Now, the same quality cannabis is fetching as low as $400 to 600 a pound and “going downhill,” though some outdoor growers are still getting in the $800-1,000 range, Anderson explained. That is for the best outdoor pot money can buy, “fresh, sun-grown, light dep,” which he said is genuinely limited and harder to find. 

Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

For contrast, Anderson says that indoor-grown “shitty, low end” flower is fetching around $1,000/pound, up to $3,000/pound for the best “designer, truly AAA, best indoor pot in the industry.” He added that lower quality pot, whether indoor or outdoor grown, exists in nearly “endless” quantities.

Data firms like Leaflink have not yet registered a price drop. A representative for Leaflink said it’s too soon to see definitive or robust data for this summer’s outdoor price drops.

That’s just in the legal market. Elsewhere in the country, pounds of the same pot trades at higher multiples in the illegal market, in some cases reaching upwards of $5,000. Supply and demand still rule the day, Anderson said, followed by quality. Indoor pot always fetches higher prices and outdoor lower, owing to outdoor weed’s relative lack of potency compared with top-shelf indoor, as well as its potentially variable appearance.

The decline in pricing, which began at the beginning of June, is expected to get worse as the cannabis harvest season proliferates and finishes in late October and November.

Emerald Triangle
Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

Following that, a remaining glut of outdoor-grown cannabis from last year’s and this year’s harvests is expected to keep prices low for “at least the next couple of years,” said Anderson. By that point, industry insiders say, many small farmers could be all but wiped off the legal cannabis cultivation map.

The immediate cause is a lingering market surplus from last year’s grow—a supply that has proved to be too large to be absorbed by the legal market.

In years past, since outdoor cannabis is not harvested during the winter, an autumn harvest will supply the market for several months. Come spring, supply is lower, therefore, prices are typically higher. Late spring and early summer are when the first rounds of harvest—referred to as “light deps” for the cultivation technique employed (which involves light deprivation)—typically begin. From there, prices begin to drop, usually to more reasonable levels. The harvest continues and the cycle begins anew.

This year, farmers are beginning a new harvest with last year’s cannabis still in hand. The expected spring price drop never came, which signaled to small farmers that something was seriously wrong. 

Fast-forward to now, after the first rounds of deps, and farmers are realizing that not only could they not sell last year’s weed, but they will have to sell this year’s crop at a steep loss if they are able to sell it at all. Off the record, many growers commented that this is the weed that ends up on the illegal market.

“This state has an over-production problem,” said Natalynne DeLapp, executive director of the Humboldt County Growers Alliance. She explained that owing to the local control provision of Proposition 64, so many municipalities in California have opted out of allowing sales and distribution within their limits that there simply are not enough places to sell the amount of legal cannabis grown in the state. 

Emerald Triangle
Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

“Currently, there are 1,775 acres of cannabis licensed by the state, which conservatively produces more than six million pounds of cannabis,” Delapp said. “CDFA [California Department of Food and Agriculture] has estimated in its Standard Regulatory Impact Analysis in 2017 that California likely consumes 2.5 million pounds of cannabis. Not all cannabis consumed in California is purchased at legal retailers, so a very conservative estimate is that we’re producing twice what the legal market can consume, but in reality it’s probably worse than that.”

That 2.5 million number, Delapp explained, is the “only and ‘best’ number we have from the state back in 2017.” She added that the state’s opacity and not releasing data from METRC, the tracking system, that shows what amount of cannabis is legally sold in licensed retail shops is part of the problem.

At the same time, the state and its counties continue to issue cultivation licenses, the fees from which produce revenue for municipalities. As the number of growers increases in size, so does the amount of cannabis being produced, but the pool of would-be legal customers isn’t following in lockstep.

Bigger cultivators pose a very specific problem. In addition to flooding the market with large amounts of cannabis, driving down prices, they are also able to sustain market fluctuations, seeing as they are highly capitalized. 

According to industry insiders, like DeLapp and Genine Coleman of legacy grower advocacy organization Origins Council, larger cultivators weren’t supposed to be able to participate in the legal market until 2023, but the provision that granted small farmers a five-year-long head start in the market was scrapped just as Prop 64 was passed.

“It’s basically systemically dysfunctional,” said Coleman. “As for prices, the lowest I heard was $275. But that was a month ago. The thing to remember is that that farmer is paying a $150-per-pound cultivation tax,” she added, citing a harsh truth that applies to every cultivator regardless of what price per pound their weed ends up being sold for.

Coleman also lays out immediate solutions that she and others in California’s small grower community say would provide meaningful relief.

Emerland Triangle
Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

“Between COVID, the fires, that reality [of crashing market prices], and the budget process unfolding, there could be some legislation and a trailer bill. There could be temporary actions taken while time is taken to sort out a broader policy issue,” Coleman said, referring to a potential temporary moratorium on issuing cultivation licenses, as well as amending the cultivation tax, which are two fixes many growers say they would gladly welcome.

“From our perspective, the most immediate thing that can happen is some kind of tax restructuring, that at least offers temporary relief from the cultivation tax. Because the rest of the supply chain is better positioned than small farmers, in particular,” Coleman said. She added that these larger operations are also much more equipped to handle compliance as it relates to state regulations, like the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), from both a manpower perspective and a monetary one.

“The next order of business is, ‘What can be done for market expansion?’ The lateral growth in the retail sector is unacceptable and can’t carry the production trajectory that we have,” Coleman explained. She said that larger-scale operations continue to come online and everyone in the industry is preparing for an eventual interstate market that doesn’t exist yet while at the same time there has been a contraction of customer access.

For Coleman’s part, she is on the board of the Alliance for Sensible Markets, another advocacy organization that has been in conversation with a number of states to evaluate interstate compacts and prospective trade between legalized states. Nothing has been decided on that front as of yet, but she indicated that news was coming soon.

As for the state, Nicole Elliott, director of the Department of Cannabis Control, shared, “The Administration has always been committed to supporting small and legacy businesses in the cannabis market, as evidenced by a number of the policies and programs that have been pursued and implemented in our 2.5 years in office.”

Elliot points to the creation of a standalone state department, the Department of Cannabis Control, which recently consolidated from three separate state agencies to help simplify the administration of regulated commercial cannabis businesses. She says this includes a “sustained focus on streamlining licensing processes and regulatory requirements. All of this is being done with an eye towards making it easier for businesses, particularly small businesses, to operate within the legal, regulated market.”

Elliott added that the state’s budget, which is enjoying a $75.7 billion surplus this year, allocated $100 million for a Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program. 

“These grants specifically target regions with high numbers of small farmers and was structured in a way that really sought to preserve significant funding locations with legacy small cultivators that often have unique regulatory needs,” Elliott said. She also adds that some legacy operators in the Emerald Triangle are also equity beneficiaries who receive funds from a $35.5 million Local Equity Grant Program and $30 million for fee waivers and deferrals.

Both Coleman and DeLapp said they appreciate this cash injection from the Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program but that the money is already earmarked for other projects. Specifically, DeLapp said that in Humboldt County, they are looking to use it to bulk up water storage systems, which addresses the other looming catastrophe of climate change. Across the board, cultivators and their advocates say the state needs to do more. Halting the cultivation tax and enacting a moratorium on new cultivation licenses appears to be at the top of everyone’s lists.

There are other longer-term measures the state and industry advocates have taken, like the recent ratification of Senate Bill 67, which creates appellations of origin for cannabis grown in specific geographic areas. This is expected to increase tourism and provide an extra layer of education and protection around legacy growing areas that believe their cannabis is unique to where it’s grown. In an age where interstate commerce looms, it should be a huge boon—who from further afield is not going to want to buy California weed? But it’s not expected to meaningfully take effect for at least a couple of years.

Meanwhile, back in the Emerald Triangle, farmers are hurting. DeLapp says this is not only a likely “extinction event” for small legacy farmers but that it’s one of several. Back before Prop 64 passed, there were a number of cultivators who jumped ship, claiming they knew the bloodbath to come. Just after legalization was another when small farms struggled to find the capital and manpower to get and stay licensed. This outdoor price collapse is expected to be another.

Jackie McGowan, who is currently running as a candidate in Governor Newsom’s recall election, told us that she’s running specifically because she knew “at least four” grower friends of hers who died by suicide since the beginning of June 2021, owing to the price collapse. Her despair over the lives of her friends and colleagues, as well as the state of the industry, is what has compelled her to run, she said.

Coleman said that, apart from the injustice done to the small farmers who quite literally began and weathered cannabis cultivation in the United States throughout prohibition and into the legal area by allowing them to fail at this critical juncture, there are other potential losses to consider should small farmers be forced out of business.

“Something I’m always aware of regarding the extinction of small legacy farmers and farming communities is the extinction of a whole bunch of genetics,” Coleman said. “From the broader, more international perspective and especially in the medical realm of cannabis research, that’s a lot of loss in terms of the genetic library that should be researched and preserved. For an annual plant, in particular, it happens really quickly,” she added soberly.

At the end of the day, the growers and their advocates lay the blame both on the state’s failure to properly implement rules and regulations for a healthy legal cannabis market, as well as the large cultivators who are taking advantage of a law that was, frankly, made just for them.

“We were supposed to have this runway to 2023 before the market was overfilled. We didn’t get that,” DeLapp said.

She added, “What is the state going to do to fix this? Is the plan going to be to just let the legacy regions die?”

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