Features & Columns
Cannabis Growers Control Their
Destiny in Economic Boom
Cannabis famers in California have the opportunity to work together, build cooperative brands and secure a competitive position in the newly developing market. But the longer they wait, the more leverage they lose in securing their value, as corporate competitors emerge.
As with any industrial boom there are businesses preparing to introduce boutique products and novel marketing techniques.
Unfortunately, some people want a piece of the action however they can get it, from selling snake oil products to skimming off the top. Green rush fever is propelling the cannabis industry into an age of innovation, while simultaneously dividing the regulated market community and creating an avenue for black market operators.
The next two years will test the agility and resilience of the existing small farmers who created this foundation, as they prepare for permit and license applications. Learning to compete on the regulated market presents a new challenges with the cost of branding, marketing and securing sales.
Change is rarely met with majority approval, and regulating commercial cannabis is no exception. The power struggle against a corporate cannabis takeover has already begun. Yet the racketeer may not be clearly identified in all the confusion of the new regulatory structure. The prospect of an alcohol model of tiered distribution has created outrage in the cannabis industry. With reports of distributors charging 30 percent of revenue from farmers for distribution, they should be concerned.
The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) was designed with protections for small businesses. There are some people who disagree with the independent distribution provisions, but it actually opens up access to the market. Having a strong distribution partnership will ensure a product has a buyer. Distribution is a cost that producers are already incurring. The cost of a more formal distributor-transporter replaces the cost or the points that producers pay a broker or driver now.
Farmers control the market. After almost 80 years of prohibition, they are simply not used to having a voice and wielding that power. Growers can create the solutions if they step up to the challenge. It begins with consolidating efforts as cooperatives and creating focused impact in local and state politics.