The wine industry in California now competes with the marijuana business on grounds of financial gains coming to the state’s economy. The wine industry has reportedly provided 325,000 jobs in California. On another end, Bill Swindell of Press Democrat says that the marijuana business in California is estimated to offer 300,000 jobs. According to Swindell, the weed industry offers one of the biggest business opportunities for labor unions. The United Food and Commercial Works (UFCW) organization has started to organize farm workers in states that have legalized cannabis and in Washington D.C. too. Even though medical marijuana sales tax in California is reduced at least for now in what appears to be an oversight made during the passing of Proposition 64, the impact of the marijuana business is felt across the state. All the same, sales growth of the medical marijuana industry will be greatly impacted. The marijuana industry might also profit with as much as 350,000 field employees joining it. This is worrisome for the wine industry in California, particularly in the Emerald Triangle region that covers Trinity, Mendocino and Humboldt counties where grapes and marijuana seem to fight for the same resources.
The competition experienced in Northern California is the scramble for harvest labor. When the harvest for grape in Mendocino County started in August 2016, one of the companies in the region, Vineyard Logistics had 22 pickers. In a matter of six weeks, the number reduced to eight. Harvesting weed is a lot easier compared to harvesting grapes. Most importantly, harvesting marijuana pays better compared to grapes. Also, workers are making preference to marijuana because it mostly pays in cash due to legal restrictions on marijuana businesses to participate in the national financial banking system. The success on marijuana is realized amidst state-federal conflicts. Even after decriminalization in various states and in Washington, DC, marijuana cultivation and distribution has federally been illegalized. As it stands now, weed is classified as a Schedule 1 drug defined through the Controlled Substances Act. Due to this, it is not easy for weed farmers to establish the means of handling their business operations on financial grounds. They must pay taxes but cannot deduct expenses. They should also pay out wages but still have issues with making proper payroll tax records among other issues. Additionally, despite getting organized through the UFCW, weed farm workers cannot have collective bargaining rights since the Federal Labor Relations Act does not cover them. The only hope for cannabis farm workers is the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act. With an expected increase in the number of cannabis growers, harvest labor for vineyards continues to be a big issue in California.
Grape growers have no alternatives to labor shortages other than going for a mechanized harvesting. This is especially in situations where pickers vanish to cannabis farms only to show up later on when it is too late. This puts the wine industry in danger as the quality of the grapes can be compromised. Definitely cannabis is a big threat to California’s wine industries. Forecasts on the building threat started way before California legalized the recreational use of marijuana. In 2010, California’s marijuana was valued at 7 times the quantity of grapes grown as at that time. Now, the reality has hit following the passing of Proposition 64 where an increased number of persons who can buy marijuana is certain. Currently, the threat for wine industries is even bigger.
Cannabis industry in California is rapidly growing and is gaining support from other auxiliary services in IT, construction and marketing. Looking at the increasing demand for weed each day, many dealers have continued to provide cannabis for sale online. This way, many more jobs are coming up through tech innovations to make weed easily accessible to those who are legalized to use it. The emerging cannabis trade is continuously having a positive impact on the economy and the state government is turning its attention to the billions of dollars circulating in the business. It is no doubt that many parts in California continue to depend on cannabis cultivation to fill the gap left by other industries. In the process, others like the wine manufacturers are getting affected with the shift of resources towards the weed industry. Mendocino County’s economy is a good example of what has been happening in California in the marijuana businesses. Both weed and wine are great products and important for California’s economy. However, the combination of these two might see one highly esteemed than the other, in this case, the marijuana industry. The grape farmers never saw this coming. In any case, these are two completely different industries in the market. However, the scramble for resources needed for their establishment creates some similarities between them. The only competition expected would have been for customers and not for workers. All the same, this is the state of affairs in the California economy and a very defining moment for the cannabis industry to take over!