California is on its way to legalized recreational cannabis sales (beginning January 1, 2018), but there are unexpected problems that may jeopardize a smooth roll-out.
In the state’s famous Emerald Triangle, which covers Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity counties, there are approximately 32,000 cannabis farmers. Of that staggering number, only about 11 percent (or 3,500) have applied for permits to grow legally for the state. Illegal growers are reticent to go legitimate because they don’t see the benefit – they’re deterred by the copious paperwork, fees, and taxes that stand between them and legality.
And there’s further incentive to stay out of the legal system – out of state sales. It’s estimated that California produces seven times more marijuana than it consumes, so exporting the product to states where cannabis is illegal is a profitable endeavor for black market growers.
Hezekiah Allen, the executive director of the California Growers Association, says “People are losing faith in this process.” He’s concerned that at the current levels of participation in the legal process, there may not be enough regulated cannabis to serve the legalized market.
The cannabis black market is also a major concern for environmentalists, as illegal grows cut into hillsides, siphon water from creeks, and use pesticides that contaminate the water. Further, tons of trash are often abandoned by growers at the end of each season. Legal experts in the area say they’re more likely to get a jury conviction for pollution or environmental damage than for the grow itself.
Further complicating the issue is the fact that many of the illegal grows are multi-generational operations. Thomas D. Allman, the sheriff of Mendocino County says, “I’ve arrested grandparents, parents, and grandchildren in different years for growing marijuana on the same piece of property. You get into a generational thing that’s almost like moonshine. People think, ‘Why do I have to get permits? My parents didn’t have to and my grandparents certainly didn’t have to.’”
All in all, it sounds as if California may be off to a rocky start with its recreational cannabis program. At The Green Solution, we’re grateful for the well-regulated system Colorado pioneered. Stop in to any of our locations to experience cannabis – the right way.