SARS-Cov-2, this COVID-19 pandemic, is disrupting supply efforts across most industries. Although farmers are themselves growing happily with few issues, regulatory processes are notably behind schedule. While folks are ordering weed delivery without mayhap now, some challenges loom in the future. The pandemic makes impossible for regulatory officials to get on about business.
For the most part, cannabis farmers can farm their crops without too much virus-inspired interference. The pandemic is unlikely to cause major disruptions to harvesting, unless the grower lacks equipment, supplies, and licensure. If set up nicely, farmers can still harvest on time and in plenty. Until trimming, that is. Trimming buds involves hiring seasonal workers, lots of them, and all a big no-no this pandemic.
Farmers will need to outsource their trimming needs or provide adequate distancing for trimmers to maintain safety. Some machines do the job of bud trimmers nicely, but some help may still be necessary. Processing buds at harvest time is a big job. There are also the byproducts to utilize too, such as the trimmings and leaves. COVID-19 may cause some other potential delays this season too:
California requires all cannabis undergo testing at an independent laboratory. According to the Bureau of Cannabis Control, this is to ensure safety of buds. You do not want mold and other fungi, bacteria, bugs, pesticides, heavy metals, or any other harmful substances in your weed. Tests will find any. Furthermore, testing provides crucial information about the cannabis products you buy, such as cannabinoid content, terpenoid profiles, and potency.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 slowed down the testing sector, reducing production capacity significantly. Major testing delays are inevitable. It may well even happen that some farmers bypass testing laws altogether, in a bid to get their buds on shelves as opposed to piling up in wait. Consumers should be aware of this possibility and double-check all labels on pandemic-produced cannabis.
Licensing departments have not been operating during the worst of the pandemic. Companies waiting for licenses must just wait longer, even if it means sacrificing an entire season. Growers will have to harvest on time, but without an operating license, finding legal outlets to sell their buds may prove challenging. Already, pre-COVID-19 cannabis licensing was suffering inexplicable delays.
With the virus culminating and dissipating seemingly on the regular, there is no real telling just when departments will officially get back to work, with sufficient staff to process licenses timeously. Nobody knows for sure how long life will remain in limbo, until a vaccine, some say, never, say others, so the process will likely move online. Getting that set up for all to use may take some time yet.
Supplies and Equipment
Breeders and growers, and all members of the cannabis-processing sector, require specific equipment and supplies. Some deemed non-essential during the pandemic became difficult to acquire. It has been a challenge for farmers to get all the supplies that they need to harvest a quality crop under pandemic-forced constraints. This is especially true of, say, pesticides, of which safety laws ban most.
Complying with health and safety regulations may prove the most trying, since doing so requires the use of specific hard-to-come-by equipment and supplies. A delay in phosphorus fertilizer, for example, could affect flowering hugely, as well as harvest times. Fortunately, initial difficulties in the supply chain seem mostly overcome now. If adverse, we will notice the effects, if any, on weed supply going forward.
In an attempt to mitigate the fallout of regulatory delays this harvest, growers and processors across California are advocating for random inspections. This would reduce costs for farmers on testing requirements, as well as alleviate some of the backlog. The idea is for state officials to conduct random checks, unannounced, to audit cannabis businesses, the way they do mainstream agriculture.
As of now, cannabis regulators in California have the authority to conduct site tests at will. However, it rarely, if ever does so. Instead, farmers must carry independent testing costs, which can be significant, and deal with ever-frustrating regulatory delays. It is likely that farmers will sit with bags of weed and nowhere to sell it, while consumers will face a shortage of buds because of this.
Focus on Concentrates
Pressure is on growers across California for another reason too: Concentrates. The market for cannabis extracts is huge and growing every day. Because extracting cannabinoids for medical, research, and increasingly recreational purposes is rather a process, it requires licensing every step of the way. There is more likely to be a shortage of concentrates this COVID-19 season than buds.
Growers need to supply extraction companies in time for processing. However, with factories closed down to the essentials, production is at a near standstill. The concentrate industry is booming. Edibles, tinctures, oils, vaping cartridges, beauty products, and more all require cannabis extract, as well as testing and other inevitable pandemic-inspired disruptions. Folks will be getting creative at home.
Fortunately, for licensed and connected cannabis delivery companies, a network of suppliers means an easier time of meeting demand. Online dispensaries are likely to become the main outlet for farmers to market their buds. Already, you can search “marijuana delivery near me” in Google and find an abundance of options. Brick-and-mortar dispensaries may not survive this virus, but the web sure will.
We are still learning and adapting to the aftershocks of COVID-19, but we do know that it is changing consumer behavior. It is changing the economy, the exact nature of which is yet to clarify itself. While supply disruptions are likely, a good weed delivery service should still be able to procure what you need. This coming season may feel bleak for weed lovers everywhere, but it will all work out in the end.