Nation's Largest Ag Producer Won't Legalize Cannabis Farmer's Markets Anytime Soon

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The agriculture sector alone in California generated $47.1 billion in 2015, which was 2% of the state’s overall economy. That may not seem like a lot, two percent, but it was the largest amount for any state and made up 12.5% of the total agricultural production for the entire US.  The second largest state, Iowa, generated $19 billion less in the same time period, and Cali kicked out more than twice as much as the 3rd highest producer, Texas. Overall, agricultural production in California generated more revenue than the total GDP of three states.

in 2016, California voters decided to pass Proposition 64, many of them under the assumption that it was all about “legalizing weed” and little else.

Ever since the tentacles of Prop64 began to slither and stretch throughout the California cannabis culture, one of the main targets has been festivals and events that advertise and encourage public consumption and retail sale of cannabis onsite.

From High Times to Chalice, once-major events have been either crippled or canceled due to the overbearing pressure of regulations put in place by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC).

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Under Prop64, cannabis farmers cannot legally sell their ‘produce’ without a retail sales license.

For small to medium sized growers, getting your hands on such a license is unfairly cost-prohibitive and damn near impossible to qualify for.

This is why Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) proposed a bill earlier this year to allow the BCC to issue temporary licenses for “on-site sales and consumption of cannabis” at temporary events.

Though several pieces of cannabis-related legislation made it out of their respective committees in time for votes by state lawmakers, Wood’s was not one of them and the proposal died for the year.

Supporters included the local governments of Humboldt and Mendocino counties, areas that rely heavily on tax revenues generated by peaceful and trouble free cannabis farms.

Opposed to the bill was deep-pocketed corporate-cannabis Canndescent, but why?

Well, some industry experts believe that the fact that this very bill died in its committee for the rest of the year will put hundreds of small to medium-sized craft cannabis growers completely out of business over the course of the next 12 months.

That’s great news if you are a large-scale commercial boof-wrangler trying to smother the California cannabis industry, but its terrible news for the rest of us.

Though these temporary events are largely recreational and a party-like atmosphere for those in attendance, for the vendors a kickass weekend can be the difference between keeping the bills paid or not for the next several months.

Also opposed to the bill was an outfit called the United Cannabis Business Association which lobbies on behalf of LA and Orange County-based retail dispensaries… dispensaries that clearly have no interest in seeing growers cutting them out of a deal, even for a weekend at a time.

Since the Chalice shenanigans earlier this year, promoters like High Times have been able to work with the BCC to pull off properly licensed events but again the vendors actually selling weed at those events need to be licensed retailers, and that leaves the average Cali cannabis grower out of an opportunity.

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How this will affect grassroots events like the Emerald Cup at the end of the year remains to be seen but the fact that the nation’s largest ag producer can’t hold a damn farmer’s market for a plant that the voters wanted legalized is just another stain on the soiled legacy of Prop64.