State and Local Leaders, Growers Discuss Barriers to a Fair Marketplace for Cannabis

The state has a lot of work to do to ensure fair entry and competition in the bourgeoning cannabis marketplace. That was the main takeaway from a March 1 meeting of state and local officials in Ukiah.

Hosted by State Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, and Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, the event included a broad discussion lasting more than three hours with the state’s top cannabis officials, including Lori Ajax, who oversees the California Bureau of Cannabis Control, as well as Richard Parrott, director of the CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing division.

Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner Tony Linegar was also in attendance. And it was one of his statements that physically roused the attendees to their feet.

“If the overall goal of the program was to favor a corporate, big dollar, new money industry then we have succeeded,” Linegar said. “If the goal was to create a workable pathway for existing operators, then I think we have failed.”

Linegar said the requirements on average growers are just too harsh. Small-scale cultivators echoed that sentiment, noting that -- while they faced numerous logistical and financial barriers to entering the marketplace -- in some instances, single corporations took the bulk of licenses allotted in a particular county.

“It’s a huge loophole in the system that’s hurting small farmers,” McGuire said.

State officials acknowledged the kinks in the system and asked for patience.

Read more about the meeting here