While regulation of the marijuana industry can cause a lot of good, like higher quality products, it can also be a source of anxiety for some of those involved in the industry. Those who operate smaller farms in rural areas are struggling with the distribution requirements. In areas like Trinity County, known for its remoteness, the law that only licensed distributors can act as intermediaries poses a serious problem.
Trinity has 205 state-licensed marijuana farms within its limits, but no licensed distribution companies. This causes quite the roadblock in getting their products to the shelves of dispensaries. These growers may very well be left out of the legal supply chain completely.
But, what difference does this make to the rest of the state?
Due to regulation changes, many California dispensaries are facing a shortage of products. The lack of distributors in Trinity has led to “thousands of pounds” of marijuana being left out of the legal market, compounding the shortage issue.
Local industry consultant, John Brower had this to say on the issue: “Right now, there’s empty shelf space in retail, and there are licensed cultivators up here that are fat with product and desperately trying to find a white-market home for it. Harvest starts in two weeks, and many of these people haven’t moved product from last year.”
In August, Brower testified in front of both the Department of Food and Agriculture and the Bureau of Cannabis Control in Sacramento in an attempt to bring the issue to light.
One of the largest problems surrounding this issue is the red tape with which those who want to obtain distribution licenses have to deal. Karla Johnson, who runs the Flowerdaze Farm in Trinity with her husband Jacob, said that the transport-only license for growers, which is simpler to get than the full state permit, “was harder [to get] than my cultivation permit.”
“You needed to have a building that met the building code of a public restaurant in the middle of the city: they wanted sprinklers, they wanted ventilation, [for] a self-transport license,” Johnson continued.
Luckily, that was changed recently in Trinity, when the Trinity County Board of Supervisors met on September 5. The cultivation application has now been corrected to include a self-transportation authorization request.
While there are some companies attempting to get their distribution licenses in the area, Brower and Johnson expect it to be months, if not a full year, before they see any local distributors. This means those farmers have to rely on distributors from outside their region if they expect to get any of their products to retailers.
Johnson said: “In our case, we held out and were able to find a legal distribution channel and get our stuff to market, but it took us until after July 1. And before July 1 […] we couldn’t even get a call back [from distributors]. [Yet] we won first place at the Emerald Cup last year [for regenerative farming].”