Cannabis farmers in Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties are feeling apprehensive toward Proposition 64, aka the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which would make it legal for adults over 21 to possess up to an ounce and six plants of marijuana.
Some growers think that Prop 64 will be a good thing, as it will legitimize their business and alleviate the risk that comes with growing marijuana. Others are afraid that legalization will make it easier for corporate cannabis growers to put smaller growing operations out of business, by either buying them out, or shutting them out of the market entirely.
Hezekiah Allen Executive Director of the California Growers Organization said on the matter, “The growing consensus is that this is a really bad regulatory framework, but a lot of people are going to vote for it anyway because there is not a viable alternative.”
Allen also stated that cannabis prices have fallen greatly in the past decade, which makes it more difficult for smaller growing operations to remain afloat. The passing of Prop 64 could make it even more difficult for them. “The North Coast growers and every other stakeholder from law enforcement to the Legislature are deeply divided,” Allen said.
While small growers are concerned about the future of their business, they are excited to see a drop in law enforcement costs. One local grower said he was very excited that people would not be going to jail over cannabis anymore.
There are aspects of Prop 64 that will favor smaller businesses. For example, larger growing operations will have to wait five years until they receive their licenses, which will put smaller growers at an advantage.
This is an interesting side to the debate on legal marijuana. It’s certainly one that a lot of people had probably not considered. Smaller growers will no doubt find a way to continue their businesses in the new market, and they’ll possibly even thrive. Ultimately, it’ll be up to voters to decide.
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