This article was originally published on Cannabis & Tech Today and appears here with permission.
The cannabis industry is facing a unique crisis. Despite achieving enormous growth as more states come online, many producers are struggling. Oversupply, particularly in mature markets, has caused wholesale prices to hit rock bottom. A number of operators have been forced to eradicate vast quantities of flower they simply could not sell.
The problem has hit certain markets especially hard. Headlines swirled this summer when it was reported that Canadian cannabis growers destroyed a record 425 million grams (468 tons) of unsold, unpackaged product in 2021. Since adult-use sales began in 2018, cultivators in Canada have destroyed nearly one billion grams.
It’s a similar story in California. Legacy farmers in the famed Emerald Triangle, many of whom have cultivated for generations, have been frantically waving the red flag since adult-use sales began nearly five years ago. Other states are seeing the same trend.
“It is too late for a lot of the small farmers — we will likely see 50% of all Emerald Triangle farms disappear by the end of this year,” said John Casali, owner of Huckleberry Hill Farms in Humboldt County. Footage of Casali mulching pounds upon pounds of cannabis went viral earlier this year, adding further visibility to the catastrophic issues farmers are facing. But what will it take to get the industry back on track?
John Casali at his Emerald Triangle farm.
Regulatory Headaches Lead to Trickle Down Effect
While there is no single cause of the oversupply problems facing the legal industry, there is a theme emerging. Many operators place the blame at the top of the food chain, with government regulations bearing the brunt of their frustrations. The laundry list of complaints runs the gamut from aggressive tax structures, lack of market penetration, difficulty obtaining licensure, and prohibitive marketing laws.
“In many respects, we’re dealing with a regulatory straightjacket up here in Canada in terms of the framework governing cannabis,” said Pierre …