Some California Cultivators Don't Want Legal Weed

Costs tacked onto legalization could crimp OG farmers' weed game.

California’s Proposition 64 could finally bring legal recreational weed to the Golden State. Recent polling has 60 percent of likely voters passing the initiative. But not every member of the cannabis community is down for the cause. The state’s growers are divided on the issue.

From Fortune:

“The California Growers Association took a neutral stance after a recent poll among its 750 farmers, distributors and retailers found a split: 31% supported, 31% opposed, and 38% were undecided.”

Some cannabis farmers are worried the Sean Parker-backed-64 would squeeze them out of the Cali-weed-equation, with big business and new players cutting into revenue-streams that have driven financial gains for years. Other cultivators have never previously paid taxes on the cash crop, and see the introduction of Prop 64’s tax statutes as non-conducive to a business model that has only ever existed in black and grey markets. 

From Dale Gieringer, state coordinator at California NORML, in VICE:

"You've got 25 percent new state taxes on marijuana, and medical patients can get waived sales tax of 7 to 8 percent, but basically they're looking at a new tax increase on the order of 17 percent, which I think is going to encourage a lot of black market activity for the foreseeable future."

Gieringer co-authored the Compassionate Use Act, or Proposition 215––which set the groundwork for California’s medical marijuana landscape in 1996. 

Also written into the Prop 64 initiative are environmental statutes that would be costly for some weed farmers to comply with. Many of the industrial grow operations currently producing California pot leave a less-than-green ecological footprint. According to Grist, “some estimates suggest that pot plants use six gallons of water per day per plant over the summer.”

Under Prop 64, regulation and oversight of cultivation would be carried out by the Department of Food and Agriculture. Manufacturing and testing would be under the oversight of the Department of Public Health.

Like anything, there is a good side: Proposition 64 has been lauded as potentially greatly reducing drug-arrests and weed-related-crime rates. There is also a bad side: Growers that have grown accustomed to the outlaw “guidelines” currently governing the space might not be able to afford their place under the sun—at least, not without adjusting their profit expectations.