OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A marijuana industry leader says California is growing way too much pot, leaving the state with questions about what to with the surplus.
“There’s been a lot of growing going on. California’s a great state for agriculture,” explained Hezekiah Allen, the executive director for the California Growers’ Association.
The problem according to Allen is that the state is growing far more marijuana than it consumes.
“Our organization thinks its probably right around eight times as much,” said Allen.
Put another way, California produces 14 to 16 million tons of marijuana and consumes between 1.5 and 2 million tons.
Clearly, some of that is going to other states, which is — and will continue to be — illegal.
“In the past, when a product left the farm there’s a really good chance the grower had no idea where it was going,” said Allen. “But in the future, every single license holder is going to need to know exactly where every gram of product is ending up and so conditions are going to change very quickly.”
The regulations are supposed to begin on January first. At that point, growers will have a choice: either get a license and keep tons of extra marijuana in state, or continue to farm and sell across state lines in violation of federal law and under the radar.
“Nobody wants to operate under the radar. They want to do this legally, They want to say, ‘Hey, look, what I’m doing is okay,'” said Dr. Aseem Sappal, Provost and Dean of Faculty at Oaksterdam University in Oakland.
He says growers will want a business license and that when the retail space for marijuana opens up, there will new uses for any surplus marijuana
“About 75 pounds of cannabis — which is a lot — can produce perhaps, what five liters of oil,” said Sappal. “And if you look at that, then a lot of cannabis can make a little oil. And so if you talk about a surplus, that’s one very good avenue.”
Sappal also thinks the demand for cannabis products in California will be enough to handle the supply.
“I’m not hearing that, ‘Wow, we have too much. Can you come back in a month?’ It’s moving,” said Sappal.
Allen says what he would like to see is for state and local governments to license and open places for marijuana retailers to sell their products so that if there is a surplus, there are plenty of avenues for consumers to purchase pot being grown and regulated in the state.
If cities are reluctant to hand out licenses or try to ban sales in their jurisdictions, there won’t be great incentives for growers to register for legal sales, leaving the illegal black market operating with potential environmental and crime consequences.