Both government and cannabis market leaders shared a common message last Thursday in Ukiah. Both admitted that the Golden State, California, is not meeting the goal of bringing cannabis growers (who were growing before the retail sale of recreational marijuana was opened) into the newly legalised market. This meeting was the first of this type since the industry took off on the first day of this year. The meeting saw the gathering of top officials in government as well as agriculturists from the region.
The meeting, held in UKIAH, brought to light the sentiments shared by growers and just about everyone involved in the industry. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how the business marijuana market would be affected by the new regulations. Agricultural Commissioner for the Sonoma County, Tory Linegar, was applauded for his analysis. He stated that it was clear that the regulations imposed on the state and the local level were preventing positive growth for existent agriculturists to implement their businesses legally.
In a statement that was well received by the room, Linegar admitted to the shortcomings of the program by saying that the program is currently favouring a “corporate, big-dollar, new-money industry…”. Linegar went on to say that the program has fallen short of reaching its goal of creating a “…workable pathway for existing operators…”
After Linegar’s speech many attendees were giving Linegar a standing ovation. Many cannabis growers and cannabis business owners were relieved to hear this statement after the frustrations from the new regulations. More than two hundred people were in attendance at the meeting in the Ukiah Valley. There were Senate committees representing government, finance and business. The hosts of the meeting were Assemblyman Jim Wood and Senator Mike McGuire. The meeting drew in the officials from the marijuana sector as well as the growers. Lori Ajax was in attendance and is responsible for California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control. In addition, the three hour long discussion had Richard Parrott, director of CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing, in attendance.
Ajax reported that so far the state has issued 1,307 temporary licenses for cannabis businesses and has begun a proactive effort to contact entities operating outside the legal system.
The illegal marijuana market is still, however, a reality. For too long the black market developed and became settled while marijuana was still illegal. Research has shown that the majority of the marijuana that is cultivated in the Golden State is sent out of California. California’s marijuana is grown mainly in the areas of Trinity, Humboldt and Lake counties.
McGuire said that the meeting was held in the North Coast area because the marijuana market has been a significant influencer on the North Coast. Parrott is the overseer of the marijuana licensing and he admits that more is needed for the program to reach its goals.
Parrott said that the number of licences did not match the amount of growers that they estimated there actually is. Existing growers are struggling under the high cost involved. Becoming fully legal under the new regulations requires high costs for environmental and various other valuations and assessments.
Another up and coming cannabis businessman, Michael Steinmetz, said that the growers and farmers do not have much reward or much motivation to go through the costly process of attaining the licence. Steinmetz is the creator of the company, Flow Kana, a business that is setting its roots into the growing cannabis cultivation and distribution industry in the California Redwood Valley area.
Dan Hamburg shared similar dissatisfaction in his statement. Hamburg is the Supervisor for the Mendocino County and he said that while his county is admittedly ahead of almost all the other Californian counties, the Mendocino County is still falling short of its goals. There are still far too many farmers, cultivators and cannabis businesses and businessmen that are not yet fully licensed.
Hamburg admitted that he and his county were finding it challenging to meet their goal and to assist all growers in getting licensed. After having cannabis a fully fledged industry (whether legal or not) for the past almost half a century and then trying to get all these businesses to abide by the new regulations is challenging.According to reports the Sonoma County has an approximate number of marijuana agriculturists ranging between 5 and 7 thousand. The number of permits held for such cultivators to grow marijuana? Three.
The floor for discussion was opened to the public as well and a few patrons had their voices heard. The public and officials shared the floor in a discussion that lasted approximately one hour.