Some are calling it the “marijuanapocalypse of 2018,” while others, namely those of us that make up the Cannabis Now editorial department, would prefer to label California’s decision to destroy marijuana sacrilege. Sure, the word doesn’t have the same doomsday ring as the mashed-up term snagged from the book of Revelation, but it is certainly an accurate scrap of verbiage to express the disdain felt by some of those in the cannabis industry forced to turn over marijuana to the garbage collectors. If you haven’t heard about this madness, buckle up and prepare to be enlightened.
After just six months of recreational cannabis sales, officials in the Golden State ushered in a new set of regulations pertaining to the safety and packaging of all cannabis products. The new rules, which took effect on July 1, were designed to hold cannabis companies to higher standards when it comes to making sure that all products, regardless of whether it is flower, concentrates or edibles, are free of pesticides, mold and other chemicals.
While no one argues that clean, pesticide-free weed is preferred, the updated regulations rendered all of the marijuana remaining on the shelves as of the beginning of July obsolete. This means that all cannabis products must be destroyed, creating a situation that stands to cripple “the whole supply chain,” says Jerred Kiloh, president of the United Cannabis Business Association, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The deadline to incineration, so to speak, forced dispensaries all across the state to have mega-clearance sales on untested marijuana. Some of these businesses were knocking off between 50-80 percent off high-quality bud. Others were giving it away for prices as low as a penny by the time the clock ran down.
But even with all of the discounted doobage flying off the shelves, experts close to the scene predict that California’s cannabis operations could still be forced to obliterate more than $350 million worth of cannabis products.
It should be noted that most of this weed, which has been deemed unusable by the state, is perfectly fit for consumption. Californians have been smoking untested herb for decades.
A legion of cannabis businesses attempted to provide the industry with a stay of execution. Around 150 of them signed a letter to Governor Jerry Brown last week, asking for more time to make the change. Above everything else, these companies were asking for more time to stock plenty of complaint cannabis products before pulling the plug on the old. There was also the question of whether there will be enough testing labs to handle to workload.
These factors would undoubtedly lead to product shortages, the letter explained, and drive “customers and patients” to the “illicit market retailers and delivery services who will still have an abundance of products for sale.”
In the end, the state Bureau of Cannabis Control said the six-month transition period “was a sufficient amount of time to deplete stock on hand and adapt to California’s new rules.”
This means, while you are reading this article, dispensaries are busy destroying marijuana.
But get a load of this. While the state wants all of this old marijuana disposed of in a timely fashion, it is not lifting a finger to ensure the job gets done. Dispensaries are solely responsible for getting rid of retro reefer. Some of these products, such as bud, will be tossed into a compost heap, while others, like vape cartridges, will be smashed to pieces and taken to the landfill. Interestingly, the state does not trust the dispensary owners to do this job properly, so all activities pertaining to cannabis destruction must be videoed. The state can come back at any time and request to see the evidence.
Yes, it’s true — the idea of destroying perfectly good marijuana is a shame. But industry leaders say this is hiccup is necessary to build a bigger, better cannabis market in California.
“We have to remember that, yes, that is going to be a growing pain we are going to have to deal with,” Josh Drayton, a spokesperson for the California Cannabis Industry Association, told Wired. “But ultimately Prop 64 passed through wanting to prioritize public safety and public health.”
Still, not every member of the California cannabis industry is peeved by the state’s new regulations. Some dispensary owners believe “these regulations are very necessary for consumer protections, environmental protection and public safety protections,” reports the Sacramento Bee.
Furthermore, a temporary supply shortage might not be the worst thing for California’s cannabis market. As we have learned from other legal states, like Oregon, an overabundance of marijuana has the power to run down prices and put cannabis farmers out of business. It is something that California is at risk of, according to the California Growers Association.
“Oversupply is a ticking time bomb in California, with the potential to significantly damage the market,” reads a report from the organization.
So, it could be worse. Some experts say the market is already headed there. “For the way the program is set up, the state just wants to get as many people in as possible, and they make no bones about it,” Hilary Bricken, a California attorney specializing cannabis law, told the Associated Press. “Most of these companies will fail as a result of oversaturation.”
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