Pot crop growers in California are now faced with compliance challenges as the state opens its legal marijuana market to the public on January.
As California sets the stage for its legal pot industry, a lot of pressure is placed on growers and cultivators to meet the state’s standards for salable marijuana.
The law requires growers to make sure the weed they produce is clean and free from any form of contamination. These include pesticides and other forms of harmful solvents and molds. The problem is, many of the state’s growers, most of which are small time startups, may not be able to produce what is required, potentially resulting into a deluge of black market weed supply.
Blue Belly Farms owner and operator Brian McCall believes so, saying that it’s “much harder to produce clean cannabis. It takes discipline, time and paying attention.”
“There are so many ways to fail. You can’t sell it if it’s not in compliance with the new state law. The stuff that fails is going to go to the black market — or across state lines,” he adds.
Executive director of the California Growers Association Hezekiah Allen estimates that only 10 to 15 percent of the state’s growers will be able to meet the standards set by the state.
How will this affect state goals and revenue, not to mention the price? What will prevent consumers from getting their good old pot from the streets which is more accessible and cheaper to acquire?
During the San Francisco’s HempCon competition in August, a lab test on the flowers, edibles and concentrates featured and displayed revealed that 80 percent of them were contaminated. This alerted the state for the need to create some regulatory rules in order to ensure that what is being sold is safe to the public.
Due to the drug’s illegal status on the federal level, there are still unsubstantial knowledge about how these rogue chemicals can affect a person when ignited, thus the strict metrics.
Learning from experience
Given that the state is still in its initial process of weed standard regulations, California might be able to learn from how regulatory changes impacted the weed industry in Colorado when it started to impose its own pesticide regulations. It took years to clean up and many growers learned their lessons the hard way.
Yet, even though there may be some major hoops ahead, the state’s move is a significant step towards addressing a concern that has long been overdue.