Will Big Marijuana Crush CA’s Local Growers?

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This November, recreational marijuana is almost certain to be approved in California, the eight-largest economy in the world. Medical marijuana is already a billion-dollar business in the Golden State, and allowing dispensaries to open the doors to everyone 21 and over will be a watershed moment for the legalization movement.

As you’d imagine, big business and ganjapreneurs are thrilled about the prospects.

As a recent report from The New York Times details, howeversome farmers and residents are already seeing red over a market certain to be flush with green. One big concern—this is California, after all—is the environment. The state is currently in the middle of an epic water shortage, so much so that mustache aficionado and avocado farmer Tom Selleck has stolen water to irrigate his crops.

There’s also the potential pesticide run off from massive new grow operations, and another, more human impact to consider.

Residents in famous Humboldt County are already witnessing land grabs from major investors. Obviously, that means property values are spiking, but it also raises the question of where smaller farmers, many of which risked their land, life and liberty to grow marijuana for decades, will fit into this massive marijuana economy.

At this point, none of the regulations about legal weed have been finalized, though as Price of Weed reported last week, the Public Policy Institute of California is pushing for “restrictive” approach, including so-called “seed to sale” tracking of product which could mean massive start-up and licensing costs.

That could mean a generation of growers suddenly being priced out of market they created, only to watch corporate carpetbaggers swoop in and capture the market they have time to catch their breath. It’s anyone’s guess what marijuana legalization will look like in California, but it’s clear the passage of one bill won’t lead to the kind of pot utopia activists have been dreaming about for decades.

There’s still a long road ahead.

[via The New York Times ]

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