So here we are.
July 1st has come and gone and a new era has dawned in the California cannabis industry. And don’t get it twisted, it absolutely is an industry and Prop64 and the resulting Bureau of Cannabis Control have ensured that it will be nearly impossible to survive as a small to medium sized entrepreneur.
From seed to sale, to recycle the term, the Emergency Regulations released earlier this year by the BCC and enacted on July 1st will severely and negatively impact growers, processors, retailers, and of course consumers. That impact began yesterday whereby all legal California dispensaries were ordered to “destroy” any unsold cannabis flowers or products.
From extreme application and permit fees, to an ever-evolving set of rules, to excessive taxes, idiotic packaging requirements, and product testing standards that no supermarket produce aisle could ever live up to, the Cali cannabis industry takes regulation to such a ridiculous level that one wonders if the entire thing is set up to see the true cannabis community fail.
For… well… ever, man has been dealing with the cannabis plant and, legal or not, including it as a part of the overall economy. The past decade, in particular, has seen incredible growth in the mostly self-regulated market and now 30 states have passed some form of medical marijuana laws.
But what percentage of the companies who built their brand in that decade from the ground up in a humble and grassroots style can now afford to fork over tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars up front for “the right” to operate at a loss for 3-4 years just to say that they are “legal”?
This often insurmountable entry barrier into the legal side of the business has guaranteed that the grey/black market will continue to thrive in the Sunshine State and that in a vast majority of cases the small to mid-size breeder, grower, broker, extractor, or retailer will either resort to those old familiar markets or they will fold.
What a gift to the for-profit prison system that incessantly lobbies our lawmakers.
Consumers have already gotten a pretty rude awakening this year from Prop64, with cannabis flowers, edibles, oils, topical treatments, and more getting hammered with a 30-40% tax on top of already hard to swallow prices at many dispensaries.
Now they will also endure a substantial reduction in the variety of options that they have become accustomed to should they choose to get their buds from a legal outlet.
So if the legal spot costs the consumer more money but offers fewer options, the cannabis market will continue to treat them unkindly.
Mandated security upgrades.
Ridiculous packaging requirements.
Even harsher (and expensive) testing requirements as of July 1st too…
Many of these costs of doing business under Prop64 end up on your receipt as a consumer. There is a good chance that your local dispensary or delivery service is struggling themselves but is STILL trying to pass any savings on to you that they can. On the other hand, the corporate cannabis sharks now circling the industry do not have the word ‘compassion’ in their vocabularies.
In the Post-July-1st world that we now live in, any shortage of cannabis that the legal market is afflicted with will not be due to a lack of talented growers, or productive trimmers, or safe and capable extraction labs.
No, it is due to overbearing regulation.
Almost nobody will be able to comply with the packaging regulations in enough time to avert a drought in legal retail weed. It is always worth noting that booze isn’t sold in childproof packaging.
For everyone who tried their hardest to become compliant under Prop64, having their full inventory of product literally destroyed before reaching the consumer is not only demoralizing, it will spell certain financial doom for many dispensaries who were already suffering.
As a consumer, we implore you to not take cannabis for granted.
We ask that you take elections and state and local ballot measures seriously, especially when it comes to cannabis reform.
With legalization comes a welcome sense of relief for the cannabis user, a sense that a looming risk has vanished. But for everyone on the supply side of the equation, the risks are higher than ever and the rewards are quickly being hoarded by an elite few.