Calgrowersassociation.org/” target=” blank”>California Growers Association, a trade group representing marijuana farmers, filed suit in Sacramento County Superior Court against the California Department of Food and Agriculture over a loophole in cannabis cultivation regulations.
The case concerns the scale of just how much cannabis a a licensed farmer can grow. Type 3 licenses, allowing up to an acre of cannabis cultivation, are limited to one per farm, but Type 2 licenses, for up to 10,000 square feet, are unlimited. “A colleague in Colorado said it’s like setting a daily [purchase] limit at an ounce, but then letting people buy unlimited eighths; it doesn’t make sense,” says Hezekiah Allen, executive director of CGA. “This isn’t about preventing big grows; it’s about giving the diversity of existing businesses the time they need to transition. ” Last year, California produced at least 13.5 million pounds of cannabis, but only consumed 2.5 million – that big question mark about where the rest of the weed went leads straight to the black market and out of state.
While nearly 95 percent of CGA supports the organization’s position in the lawsuit, according to Allen, not everyone within the cannabis community agrees with its premise. Some estimate that there are more than 50,000 growers in California, he adds, but as of January 31, the CDFA had only issued 840 temporary cultivation licenses
With the price of legal cannabis already increasing due to high taxes, economically challenged consumers – including military veterans, senior citizens, and full-time family caregivers – are having difficulties affording the new costs, DeAngelo says.
“There’s room for small artisan growers. They’ll produce great, artisan cannabis at a high cost, but I don’t think it’s fair to say to consumers who can’t afford that grade of cannabis that that’s their only choice,” DeAngelo says. “The reason we make so much money off cannabis is that we grow about 10 times as much as we can consume and ship it out of state illegally, but once we have a legal interstate market, we should be able to do that legally because we have the ideal microclimate for growing cannabis here and the best talent pool,” he says. ” With the ability to sell cannabis at a cheaper price, these other states could claim the national market, he worries.
Many of these growers who stand to gain from the lawsuit are family businesses trying to sustain their livelihood, he explains. “This five-year period is not just about how much cannabis you can grow, but also about how we can turn the tide at the local levels to enable small farmers to continue operating and get licensure so they can make this transition. We respect the fact that there was an existing cannabis industry before January 1, 2018, and we pay homage to those people, without whom there wouldn’t be a cannabis industry today.