California Cannabis Farmers Challenge Loophole in State Grow Regulations

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When California released regulations that governed the legal cannabis industry last year, small-scale cannabis farmers were disheartened to learn that there was no restriction on the amount of acreage that could be used by a single cultivator.

Farmers with smaller farms feared they would be pushed out of California’s legal market, unable to compete with large corporations growing gigantic ganja farms.

Now these farmers are fighting back. The California Growers Association is opposing state regulations, calling for a one-acre grow cap on cannabis.

Proposition 64 legalized recreational cannabis in California. In the bill, it’s stated that it “ensures the non-medical marijuana industry in California will be built around small and medium-sized businesses.”

This text was referred to in a press release from the California Growers Association on January 24.

Proposition 64 and the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act established a 5-year transitionary period in the state to allow protection to small and medium-sized growers before large-cultivation licenses are issued.

There’s a loophole though, says the California Growers Association. One that allows a single corporation to “obtain and aggregate unlimited smaller cultivation licenses to operate a cultivation site larger than the legal limit.”

This basically ensures that a single grower is only permitted a one-acre grow…but the individual can apply for multiple licenses and have “several” one acre grows. 30 one-acre plots move far beyond “small and medium-sized” cultivation.  

The decision to move forward with the lawsuit was made after two months of careful consideration. Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association said, “We took our time with this because we wanted to make sure we got it right. Our concern is very narrow in scope, but the implications are huge.”  

Not everyone in California wants to see cannabis go corporate. But many small and medium-scale growers feel this is exactly what’s going to happen if something isn’t done to regulate the one-acre cultivation cap.

Allen however, is trying to remain positive. “We look forward to an opinion from the judicial branch to help settle this disagreement so we can move forward collaboratively and ensure as many businesses as possible are able to participate in the regulated cannabis market.”

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