Today, while in town, I was hailed by a sturdy man in his mid-forties. Turning to see who it was, he said he was a grower from Potter Valley and was neighbors with a friend of mine. He’d seen me on Weediquette. Soon, our talk got serious.
The market has fallen out, he said. Everybody he knew was still sitting on weight. Usually by now everyone has just about sold everything. He himself still had over 300 pounds of good weed. I asked if it was organic, to which he said he always grew organic. So far this spring I have heard from many growers who still haven’t sold their 400 plus pounds of 2016 Harvest. Now the Lite Dep harvest will be coming in. What will happen with all the surplus?
In the past, he explained, three or four buyers would come out to the valley every couple of months, but this year they just didn’t show up. They used to drive up from the city or from dispensaries down south, smoke one or two joints and buy one’s whole crop for up to $5000 a pound. Not this year.
Add to that, the cost of new permits and regulations, and growers are jumping ship fast. A few older growers I know have said they are so overwhelmed with the permits, the inspections, the costs and the paperwork that they are not going to grow this year.
As I continued talking with the Potter Valley grower, I could sense a feeling of tension, if not quite resentment. Another friend from the valley said, “Rumor has it, only a few Potter Valley growers have had their permit applications accepted. There’s a growing sense of haves and have-nots or rather “legal privilege” against “outlaw danger.”
Meanwhile, the real estate market is in turmoil. Already, I have been offered several properties. The first question is always: Does it have a permit? Next: What Zone is it in? because most county zones are restricted from creating new cannabis grows, that is if they do not have proof of prior cultivation established with the county. Thus the value of Rural Residential 10 acres, Upland Residential (40 acres) and Agricultural Land has gone up dramatically, since only they are open for new cannabis cultivation sites starting in 2020. It follows that the value of land in all other zones, without proof of prior cultivation, has been drastically reduced, especially Range Land, which comprises about one third of the land in the county. It is a curious trick of fate that many law abiding citizens who would not grow cannabis on their land, now face a serious devaluation.
The whole black market construct clandestinely created over the last sixty years is crumbling fast. The only actual functioning example of true free market laissez-faire capitalism that ever existed is dying in front of our eyes. All of us in the cannabis community would clearly like the free market system remain. But it is equally clear that once Proposition 215 happened in California in 1996 and recreational legalization in Colorado occurred in 2010, it would be only a short time before it was fully legalized here.
There is no way to stop this. The only thing to do is to mobilize people and participate in the political process. Otherwise, all the laws and regulations will be made by people who know nothing about cannabis. We were able to stop a much worse legislative bill in 2014, written by the police chiefs. We are still working to get fair and sensible regulations. In the meantime, while we fight, I’m afraid regulators and those in power are killing the small farmers of the Emerald Triangle (and, with them, the entire community in which we all live) with their minutiae of laws, regulations and permits.
How will the small farmer survive?