The once pipe dream of interstate cannabis commerce is more real than ever with serious conversations on the subject currently happening in Washington D.C. and California.
The hype started earlier this year in California with Senate Bill 1326. The bill was authored and filed into both chambers by lawmakers from two of the state’s premier cannabis-producing regions, Senator Anna Caballero and Assemblymember Mia Bonta. One might say Caballero’s district represents the best part of California’s newer weed-growing regions in Salinas. The region probably is tied with Santa Barbara for the best cannabis from places that have heavily come online over the last decade. Both regions have taken home Emerald Cups, but haven’t been able to beat Humboldt and Mendo when everything goes to plan weatherwise, and there is no smoke north of Wine County.
The weed from Salinas is generally nicer than the stuff we’re seeing come out of communities in the desert or central valley. Many of the people growing it are old family farms that have converted over from flowers after not being able to compete with the surge of products in overseas markets. But to keep it real, there are some chads in Salinas too because its location made it accessible to the L.A. and San Francisco markets in just a few hours.
The chads bought out farms from families that got hit by the overseas challenges but didn’t have a plan or want to transition to cannabis or something else. One chad built his greenhouse next to a blueberry field that was getting crop dusted and had to spend big money to create positive pressure in his greenhouse or the weed wouldn’t pass testing because of the wind drift. It was still boof, but we all had a good laugh. The main point is, the area features a lot of good size farms that would benefit from the bill owned by people of varying quality.
Bonta arguably is more linked with California cannabis than most of her peers in Sacramento. Her husband, Rob, was one of the great champions of cannabis reform in California before he became our current attorney general. Hence, most of the good things that happened in California cannabis over the 2010s had the name Bonta attached somewhere. The couple’s home in Alameda sits just a stone’s throw across the water from Oakland’s Green Zone.
Once thought to be the future home for outbound global cannabis logistics for all the weed in NorCal, it didn’t work out. Oakland ran its golden ticket through the shredder a few times over the course of two mayors and a few city council transitions, but there still are people growing heat. Names like Fig Farms and DEO fall in Bonta’s district. Certainly, there is a ton of value for her constituents in building out the mechanism that will allow eventual exports.
The lawmakers’ bill would make an exception to the Prop 64 language that attempts to prevent the diversion of legal products to the black market. It would authorize the Governor of California to enter deals with one or more states allowing medicinal or adult-use commercial cannabis activity, or both, between licensees. Everyone is subject to applicable laws in each state.
As with many things in life, there are some ups and downs. The most obvious benefit is the amount of shelf space nationally that California producers might have access to. Many have speculated that a lot of production will move back to California once the federal stuff is cleaned up. In the same sense we love our oranges from Florida and cranberry sauce from Massachusetts, California’s pot has that endearing name value. Demand could very much soar as soon as the interstate market comes online, and then further swell when international markets open up.
Any little guy that makes it to that point now is in the realm of generational wealth. People in the U.S. and abroad will understand the value of premium cannabis grown in California, and the ticket price will bounce back to more manageable levels than what we’re seeing today.
People won’t be paying $80 an eighth because the guy that grew it might go to jail, it’ll be because of the fundamentals of supply and demand. There only will be so much real heat to go around, but there will be a bunch of good pot.
But most small farmers aren’t in it for the clout. They want to do what they’ve dedicated their lives to.
This is what Congressman Jared Huffman had in mind when he introduced The Small and Homestead Independent Producers Act (SHIP) to allow small farmers to ship across state lines to Congress last week.
“Too often, the federal government falls behind, and the gears of Congress work too slowly to keep up with the pace of a changing economy,” said Representative Huffman. “Under my bill, folks in our state will be able to ship their products straight to consumers when the antiquated federal prohibition on cannabis is finally repealed. As large, commercial cannabis operations squeeze out local producers from the market, this legislation is critical for farmers to survive and expand their small businesses. We cannot leave our smallest family farmers behind under full legalization.”
The bill is being backed by The Origins Council, one of the largest advocacy groups organizing legacy farmers. They count 900 farmers among their ranks, and it’s pretty obvious to all of them how huge this would be for as many people making it as possible in the long run.
“For small craft producers in nearly any context, direct-to-consumer shipping is the critical tool that enables a diversified market to survive and thrive. Cannabis is no different,” said Ross Gordon, policy director of Humboldt County Growers Alliance (HCGA) and policy chair of Origins Council. “The SHIP Act moves the conversation beyond the question of who can get a license to cultivate cannabis, and addresses the practical reality of building an equitable and accessible market for small cannabis producers.”
This is one of the most important aspects of legalization success in California long term, and we’ll stay on top of it for you.
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