We are a culture finding its collective voice. As a people, we are coming out of the cannabis closet and owning the story that is told about our reality. This unmasking of our cultural legacy brings a mixed bag. We enjoy our fierce independence and our outlaw mentality; the fall of prohibition spells an end to this notion that we are the Last Frontier of the Old West.
Farmers are an independent lot, and cannabis farmers exemplify this principle. An illegal industry creates a certain sort of self-selection that favors the bold. We are a culture and heritage under Prohibition with the duty and glory that shines from the light of a new day. As a people, we need consensus around our environmental policies, production policies and pricing. Our challenge is to get organized; put your voice and money into the process and let’s retake our pole position and make it a seller’s market again!
Things used to be much more diversified; lots of small operators fanning out to different places. In the last 10 years, we’ve seen some interesting shifts in the way cannabis moves. Like most industries, we’ve seen consolidation and concentration of resources in the hands of people who don’t actually produce anything. Growers have seen their market share fall by as much as 75% from the peak, while street price has remained stagnant or even increased. More capital has allowed buyers to demand lower and lower prices as they use the traditional leverage of the capitalist class to exploit the labors of the honest, hard working farmer. This stands in direct opposition to the ideals under which cannabis production and distribution developed.
It can be pointed out that there is more domestic production each year and some would say this is responsible for the drop in price. The reality is that we are simply supplanting the inferior Beasters and Brick Packs. Demand nationwide has more than increased to support supply of quality cannabis; the issue is that a class of middlemen have inserted themselves, each carrying an openly noted minimum $1,000/lb margin. Some buyers are now gleefully pointing out that they make more from a pound than the farmer.
A class of buyers successfully used our inability to organize; they set us against each other, saying some form of “your neighbor’s weed is cheaper,” “your neighbor’s weed is better,” or both. Growers: get organized, join your trade association (Emerald Growers Association) and support your political wing (California Cannabis Voice). Put your money where your mouth is, as organizer Thomas Edrington says, “get your shovels, that rainy day you’ve been waiting for is here!”