The High Costs of Farming

Ah, life used to be so simple. Someone gave you a seed, you put it in the soil and watered it, and eight months later, you smoked it. Well, not really. There was the backbreaking work of lugging plants and bags of the soil up the hill, to stash under the manzanita bushes, and then getting water to them everyday. There was the inevitable paranoia that struck every time a helicopter flew overhead, and you’d imagine yourself invisible while hiding under a small tree. It wasn’t all Easy Street up here in the Emerald Triangle in the “good ol’ days” – but let’s face it, farmers were well paid, $5000+ per pound in the heyday, and it was worth every cent for the blood, sweat and tears put into it.

The “simple” part of the old days was the necessary lack of paperwork. No one thought about keeping receipts or notes about what went where. In fact, the lazy memory of a stoner could come in handy when you wanted to forget the facts. Taxes weren’t paid, obviously. Outlaws were plentiful. The Wild West prevailed … and in that way, it was a wonderful time that will go down in history. The Tales from the Emerald Triangle will rival Gold Rush stories one day. The original growers in these hills of Northern California are the counterparts to those early pioneers. Only difference being that instead of killing the natives to take their lands, the growers were respectful and secluded due to the nature of their business. Plus, most of them were peace loving hippies.

Nikki paperworkSo enter November of 2015 and this is what we are looking at: compliance, permits, licenses, ordinances, lawyers and accountants, trademarks and branding, co-ops, distributors and taxes. What is this new language imported recently from the financial world to the cannabis world? Swami and I are swimming upstream but seem to be staying afloat – in fact, kind of enjoying the ride. There probably are many growers who prefer to stay anonymous and hidden in the hills. Unfortunately, I am afraid that law enforcement may come down heavily on those people who refuse to participate.

I imagine that most outback growers aren’t even aware of the upcoming due dates over the next two years for every imaginable permit and license which will need to be obtained to become a legal cannabis farmer in California. The trail of paperwork is as long as the coast. There will be lots of legal language to understand, variances to obtain, conditions to be met, inspectors to welcome to our properties and gardens, blah blah blah. Not an easy thing for longtime clandestine farmers to accept at a later stage of life.

Here at Swami Select we believe it is worth the paperwork, but certainly don’t recommend it for everyone. The mounting annual fees and costs which will incur from every agency imaginable, plus the costs of coming up to code to obtain necessary permits, may make it impossible to balance the budget for many small farmers. The topography of their land may be an issue, or their water source. The truth is, a minor percentage of small famers out here today will survive in the next five years.

So why are we agreeing to go through all the inspections and paperwork to save our very small family farm, Ganja Ma Gardens, the home of Swami Select? Because I strongly believe that cannabis should be legal and available for general use as well as medicinal research. I can’t wait to learn the discoveries made when scientists can really focus on this incredible plant. Many of the environmental regulations, which every kind of farmer has to follow, simply make sense for monitoring your farm responsibly.
But probably most of all, I feel no one should be abused and sent to jail over cannabis ever again. If making cannabis legal in our country means following rules and regulations, so be it. Other businesses have to do that, so here we go, out of the shadows, into the board room. We can play the game too, but with our own Emerald style!

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