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Law West Coast over-production and price wars and what it means for the future of our legal markets

I have not been in a retail rec/MMJ shop since last summer, so yesterday I decided to check out what the bottom of the barrel bargains actually look like in Washington state.

The discount $50 ounces looked like I expected: brown, crispy, leafy outdoor buds that might be a year old or more, with test results in the low to mid teens. However, the $75 ounces looked a lot better: green, frosty, but only roughly trimmed. But the $100 ounces tested over 20% and looked exactly like what used to sell for $250+.

Then I moved to the ten dollar concentrates, and chose to buy the two best looking bargain priced grams that each tested at around 70%. While the appearance was good, they both smelled faintly like spray paint and tasted and smelled like burning plastic once heated. Thankfully I only tried a tiny dab of each for science.

I just don't know what to make of this situation, but it has me very concerned about the future of our legal market.

While careful shoppers can get some amazing deals, and lower income medical users will have greater access to affordable MMJ, this race to the bottom price war is likely going to cause serious quality control issues (at least in the short term) that I'm worried will harm people now that we've discovered there is not actually an infinite supply of new heavy users lining up to to buy it all.

I guess that we will end up with a much less diverse marketplace, with only the most efficient largest commercial operations surviving. But between then and now, I expect a rocky road for the industry.

I think the defining moment for the surplus price wars will be when California has its first world record breaking legal recreational crop this fall.

So what are other people thinking about this?

I guess that we will end up with a much less diverse marketplace, with only the most efficient largest commercial operations surviving.

I'm rather think that consolidation by large corporations is inevitable. However, just like the wine industry, I do think that there will remain a large market for boutique, high quality, vendors where the law/regs hasn't crushed them (as it appears to be doing in CA with stacked licenses during the small grower protection period)
A boutique market will ONLY exist if we make it exist.

I really don’t see any of the legislation under consideration or in place aiding in the formation of such a market: if the existing small growers continue to grow, and continue to make their excess produce available, then the black market and the boutique market will be one and the same. Everything is being tilted toward the well-connected deep-pocket players, leaving me, for example, with no real choice but to grow what I want and as much as I want. In a tightly-regulated commercial marketplace, there will be no room for us...the only real question is what will change in law-enforcement where ‘unlicensed’ growers are concerned. If the penalties remain unchanged and enforcement doubles down once things are “legal” for license holders, that will cause the cost of private production to rise, even if cheap mass-produced concentrates are available from dispensaries.

If we get our rights recognized where growing, sharing, and consumption are concerned, we will almost certainly not be permitted to sell any of it legally. A way around that might be private cannabis clubs, or grower subscriptions: a situation, for example, where a few paid monthly or annually gets a membership which entitles the members to “special gifts” from the grower(s), to be ‘given’ at specified intervals. Much more likely is that anyone producing more than they can genuinely use will simply develop a closed clientele. Using myself as an example once again, I expect to eventually produce a pound of harvested bud three times a year. My consumption over the last 30+ years amounts to perhaps 10 grams a month, or a third of an ounce, on average; therefore, 12 ounces per year ought to be plenty (but with a greater discretionary supply, that could well change), so say I keep a third of each pound, and give or sell or otherwise convey the remainder; at current local rates for commercially available ($300/Oz), that would mean 32 Oz, or $9600 - certainly an amount to make any retiree’s life more comfortable, while hardly amounting to anything like wealth. This assumes that what I have is clearly superior to a dispensary‘s shelf items. If I figure 1g/watt actual, it turns into nearly two kilos, and if I keep 454g (1#), or another $4000.

Looking at it another way: I sell nothing, I make medicine from it (RSO, tincture, edibles, raw concentrate) and give it away. If it takes a quarter-pound to generate a one-month treatment regimen (my figures), then that would allow me to provide 30 days’ supply to 11people each year.

I go into this detail because these are normal, reasonable, expectable uses for cannabis beyond personal needs: I figure anyone who grows under a state-monopoly paradigm will be motivated to similar, equally reasonable choices. Any law worthy of enactment in a free society *MUST* take such realities into account, and accommodate them rather than punish them.

Simple, but still far-fetched: absent action at the federal level, probably a third of the states will maintain strict and severe legal barriers to cannabis anything. Georgia is a ‘stellar’ example of this: several years ago, the state made CBD oil legal to use for persons with certain enumerated conditions...but it remained illegal to buy, sell, import, grow, process, or possess it or its makings. They have since legalized the import and production, with the means of production and the imposed licenses tightly gripped by what remains of the Dixie Mafia, and in doing so went on record as flatly opposed to anything with any THC in it at all.

If the Fed takes responsibility for its role in the plant being proscribed, it could (and should) abrogate all existing state laws, and leave it to the states as to whether they want to reimpose controls - a situation that is perfectly common in other resource industries. In the face of such a situation it’s highly likely that even Georgia will be unable to return to its current idiotic / draconian regulations and penalties

This is not something we get to punt away: if availability of cannabis is important to US, them the only sane approach is to ensure everyone has the same availability. Special carve-outs for the wealthy and well-connected must become a thing of the past, not a perpetual “feature” of our society. I like to think of it as ‘cannabis restoration’ - the return of the plant to general use without penalty.

“The return of cannabis to general penalty-free use” is the gold standard: it allows me and you to grow as much as we want of what we want and do what we want with it. That goes beyond mere legalization, which has shown itself to be far closer to a state-supported cartelization of what could be the cannabis industry; “legalization” so far shows no inclination toward decriminalization, that is, the removal of criminal statutes and penalties. We’d be fools to pretend it will change *for* us without us having to lean on *all* our representatives to make it happen; and likewise fools not to insist that whatever steps get taken, THEY MEET OUR NEEDS.

Just in case anyone has an interest, I have tried to spell it out in the text below:

# The Cannabis Restoration Act
WHEREAS the plant species known collectively as /Cannabis sativa/ has provided humankind with paper, cloth, rope, medicines, glues balms, and benefits of every sort for centuries; and

WHEREAS /Cannabis/ has made these gifts freely available to all people without injury, harm, or ill-effects to the user, the farmer, the processor, the purveyor, for the entire history of human knowledge and use thereof; and

WHEREAS the prohibition of Cannabis has deprived diverse industries of important raw materials, to their impoverishment; the medical profession of an important aid in tending human health and well-being inexpensively and effectively; farmers of an important crop of many uses to field and livestock; and the people of a ready source of ease, comfort, and enjoyment - all to the detriment of the Citizens of the United States;

IT IS THE INTENT OF CONGRESS to right these wrongs by overturning the improper and unwise removal of Cannabis and all its products from human activity and commerce, in spite of the best advice of business, medicine, industry and the public and in contravention of the norms of productive human activity; and in doing so, restore cannabis to the fields and farms and homes and hospitals of the Citizens of these United States, where it was once of the greatest value and utility for many purposes great and small.

To this end, the honorable Men and Women representing the nation hereby declare the removal, effective immediately, of cannabis in whole and in part, from the Schedule of Controlled Substances; the elimination of all federal laws, regulations, and penalties heretofore enforced against the plant cannabis, its parts and products, and against those who have produced, provided, and / or made use of any part or portion thereof; the abrogation and nullification of all laws and regulations, at the State, the County, and the Municipal levels, that have been instituted for the purpose of governing, controlling, limiting, prohibiting, and / or punishing the cultivation, processing, and / or distribution of said plants, parts, and portions; and / or for the customary uses thereof; the immediate release of all persons tried and convicted and sentenced, in consequence of the laws and regulations abrogated by this Act; the expungement of criminal records for all those of all those individuals so released, the termination of any and all interdictions, disqualifications, and ineligibilities suffered by said persons described herein.

FURTHER, we entreat the President to negotiate with our treaty partners an end to any and all such provisions of any treaty, to which our Nation is Signatory, as may violate the expressed purpose and intent of this Act.

CONSEQUENT to these purposes, and in acknowledgement of the fact that certain Cannabis products may be rightly intended for consumption, we direct and empower the Department of Agriculture to institute systems whereby such consumable products as are intended for sale to the public may be certified as free from toxic additives and unwholesome admixtures, and further, free of inert additions, so that the availability of honest weights and measures, and truthful and accurate representation of such, may be assured to commerce and the public.

This is only a first attack on the topic, it could surely be written better, but I have tried to use expansive legalese to show the kind of specificity I believe we need. We need it made CRYSTAL CLEAR that the broadest interpretations of the text are specifically and deliberately included.

Anything less, I truly believe, will lead to the sort of two-faced gotcha legislation we’ve seen in Canada and Washington state, and to a lesser extent in Colorado, where subsequent law has done away with provisions of the initial legislation and made situations substantially worse.

It ought to be mentioned, though I haven’t worked it in there, that *any* laws against an agricultural product run contrary to the British Common Law, which is the foundation of our entire legal system and in fact is incorporated into the US Code of Laws. Most laws which are not explicitly contractual, simply enable penalties and procedures for violations of the common law: the exceptions to this are usually usurpations of individual freedoms of choice and action and are generally considered ‘unconstitutional’ in a general sense - and in a general sense, they are exactly that.

Thanks for your patience. If anyone wants to use this to shove at their district representatives or candidates for office, please feel free to do so. The only thing I ask is that we have ONE, not thirty different versions. Principles don’t vary from state to state...so help me hammer it into shape, if you feel like it.

As someone said, it all starts with a seed. This could be a seed.
Not espousing the man, I know jack about him

Call it a crystallization point: there’s tons of feelings, viewpoints, and opinions - call it a supersaturated solution. In order for ‘the cannabis community’ to make the gains we want and need to make, something is needed to spark the crystallization, the precipitation of a functional, dynamic point of view that can be put forward and pushed in every state.

That’s my goal. That’s something we need to move out of the grow closet and into the mainstream.
Not espousing the man, I know jack about him

Call it a crystallization point: there’s tons of feelings, viewpoints, and opinions - call it a supersaturated solution. In order for ‘the cannabis community’ to make the gains we want and need to make, something is needed to spark the crystallization, the precipitation of a functional, dynamic point of view that can be put forward and pushed in every state.

That’s my goal. That’s something we need to move out of the grow closet and into the mainstream.

You might want to slim this down to bullet points. I doubt many will read the whole thing.

I think the state by state process we have now, while very slow, works. No doubt some states fight tooth and nail. But if a wave comes at them, they will be over whelmed.

Another form of pressure is financial. Politicians like money more than anything. Norml does this, promising windfalls. I don't really agree with this but it has worked.
Yeah, wall-o-text, I get it.

Whole thing ought to be reframed as a public initiative, not as “model legislation”.

As for state-by-State efforts, I have more than 50 years experience in my profession; in fact, I’ve been doing it longer than it’s been considered a profession. About 30 years ago, efforts began to gain professional status and licensure, and the effort was eventually successful. Unfortunately the effort was not united effort, with the result that *any* bill that could offer a legal solution of any sort received financial and voter support; this led to a hodgepodge of state and local laws that are holding the industry back nationwide. Bad bills, like bad money, drives out the good,and lousy laws are NOT better than no laws.

Focus, organization, consistency, and persistence would have genuinely put the profession on a solid and respectable footing. It might have taken longer, but it would have been better to achieve the same objectives in every jurisdiction than to settle for crap laws scattered piecemeal across the country.

The damage done to my profession will outlive me, and that’s a rotten shame. I can see the same thing beginning to happen with cannabis law: too many willing to settle for too little in exchange for compromised and rescindable “benefits”.

I argue against that approach, and I’ll continue doing so for as long as I’m able. I really don’t want to see that same set of mistakes play out in another area of my life: I’m moving from the one to the other, and I’d like to leave that short-sighted bullshit behind
We have state legislatures making laws in med and legal states that keep the black market thriving. The lower prices and the over production I’m sure will be a short term situation. The states are wanting the prices higher then they make more money. The over production is probably because the states don’t know what they are doing. We like over production - better for the consumer but it doesn’t create as much money for the states. They want the tax revenues they don’t care about the consumer or the medical patient.

Western US marijuana growers prep for harvest after heat, drought and lower prices​

Published 12 hours ago | By Bart Schaneman

A chart showing the average cost for retailers for a gram of marijuana.

From wildfires to record heat to prolonged drought, outdoor marijuana cultivators across the American West had more than a few obstacles to contend with this year.
On top of that, market prices are falling in some Western states – including California and Nevada – as marijuana production capacity continues to expand (see chart above.)
Data from Seattle-based analytics firm Headset shows that, from September 2020 to September 2021, market share for cannabis flower shrunk in each of the following states:

  • California: 45.2% to 39.7%
  • Colorado: 49.5% to 43.1%
  • Nevada: 60.8% to 50%
  • Oregon: 50.7% to 45.3%
  • Washington: 46.5% to 44%
So how tough is the outlook for this year’s harvest? Depends on whom you ask.
MJBizDaily caught up with growers across the American West to see how harvest is shaping up this year.
Here are their thoughts in their own words (comments have been edited for length and clarity):
The weather has been colder than previous seasons.
And there was wildfire smoke, which blocks light and causes an elongated bud structure and leads to depressed growth of the plants in general. That’s led to lower yields.
Image of Ryan Power

Ryan Power
Because prices were so good in 2020, people upped production in 2021. In 2020, we all got the Ferrari and drove it around the block. There was a lot of money to be made last year.
But 2021 is a pretty dismal season for the California market. There is still full-season cannabis on the market from 2020.
Last year, the market was more than $200 a pound for bucked biomass.
This year, we’re looking at $100-$150 a pound for machine-trimmed biomass, which means a lower price and a lower weight. Cannabis is 25%-50% heavier when it’s just bucked. Plus we have the labor and time costs involved with trimming.
The cost of compliance and taxes haven’t changed. It’s more than I’m selling the pound for.
The goal this year is not to make money but just break even.
Ryan Power, CEO, Atlas Seed, Sebastopol, California
This has hands-down been our best year ever. We’ve worked out a lot of agricultural efficiencies. It’s looking more beautiful than it ever has before.
Image of Julia Jacobson
Julia Jacobson
It was hot. We essentially had August heat in July. But we didn’t have any issues with smoke near us. We’ve had mostly blue skies where we are in Lake County.
Wholesale prices are pinching us, but we’re lucky because we’re vertically integrated, both a cultivator and a brand.
Last year’s outdoor-grown flower is selling for $300 a pound, and fresh autoflower is selling for $550-$600. There was a time last year when the market was $1,000-$1,100 a pound for flower.
When the market is selling for $1,000 a pound, that’s one thing. But when it tanks, that cultivation tax is really hard to swallow. After taxes, it squeezes the margin out.
Until this year, the wholesale market hasn’t had a correction. This is going to be the new norm so people have to get used to it.
– Julia Jacobson, CEO, Aster Farms, Upper Lake, California
We’re in an extreme drought situation here. A lot of farms are not allowed (to use) delivered water, and many farms were dependent on this.
Image of Swami Chaitanya
Swami Chaitanya
We have a pond, but we had no rain after April, and it usually goes all the way into June.
The plants are a good size. It’s not so much the plants but the market.
It’s $500 for a pound of top-grade cannabis wholesale. Last year, it was about $1,200 a pound. That’s really put a sledgehammer to the farmers.
There’s just not enough places to sell the weed. So it’s a race to the bottom between the farmers just to sell anything.
People are just giving up right and left.
But we are looking forward to our crop coming and bringing it to people. There was a very good feeling at Hall of Flowers among those of us still surviving.
– Swami Chaitanya, co-founder and chief operating officer, Swami Select, Mendocino, California
We’re excited about the upcoming harvest. We’re predicting topping last year’s harvest totals.
Image of Kevin McDermott
Kevin McDermott
With the in-field sensors scattered throughout the grow we use to gauge how the plants are performing, all signs are pointing to a good year.
We don’t anticipate the early spring moisture will impact yields. Moisture in the last two weeks of May and early June delayed planting but didn’t stunt the plants.
We’re not worried about wildfire smoke tainting the flower. The lower light levels may have been a positive for us. When the skies cleared, it was almost a natural gradual increase in light that may have had a hidden benefit.
The prices on the market have been staying pretty high.
– Kevin McDermott, director of cultivation, The Green Solution, Denver (outdoor grow in southern Colorado)
I don’t see a change in the pricing of the Nevada market. Demand is going to keep going up.
Image of Paris Balaouras

Paris Balaouras
Las Vegas is the best cannabis market in the world.
We’re focusing on growing for concentrates – sauce, crumble, shatter, diamonds.
I like the concentrate market because it’s unique. People are embracing it a lot more than just flower.
I’ve never seen a market not take good product. If you can grow good product, you can keep going.
– Paris Balaouras, chief cultivation officer and founder, MJ Holdings, Las Vegas
This is going to be our single-best grow.
Image of Jim Belushi
Jim Belushi
The smoke didn’t bother the outdoor plants. We got a nice douse of rain the other day. No mold so far.
We’re harvesting in the next two weeks. Manufactured products are going crazy.
Wholesale prices fell because the media said Oregon and Portland were on fire, and tourism dropped.
So B buds are selling for $250 a pound, and some flower is selling for $350-$450 a pound to get rid of last year’s harvest. That’s compared to $1,000-$1,500 a pound for outdoor-grown last year.
Jim Belushi, founder, Belushi’s Farm, Eagle Point, Oregon
Washington state
Harvest is going well, but it’s been a challenging year for everybody.
Image of Caitlein Ryan
Caitlein Ryan
Farmers struggled to keep their plants from flowering too soon because of heat and overall dry weather.
Growers are struggling to sell product because isolate is being sold into the regulated market.
Some farmers and wholesalers are saying the isolate is absolutely depressing the market.
Other, third-party marketplaces are saying it’s because of autoflower. I think it’s both.
– Caitlein Ryan, spokeswoman, Washington State Cannabis Alliance
Overall we’re hopeful to be pleased with the outcome. It was not a tremendous year from an environmental standpoint.
Image of Ryan Sevingy
Ryan Sevingy
We had a historic heatwave and record-breaking heat.
During that heatwave, there was a heat dome over the Okanagan Valley and Oroville for a couple of weeks hotter than Las Vegas. Temperatures were 116 during the day and 95 at night.
Our beneficial bugs started to die in the heat, and the bad bugs were reproducing on steroids.
Our cost of production went up because we had to buy 60%-70% more good bugs.
Water consumption went up. That all overlapped in a manner that we haven’t seen in the past.
Wholesale prices for flower are about 10-20% lower than last year.
– Ryan Sevigny, co-owner and president, Landrace Farms, Oroville, Washington
Bart Schaneman can be reached at
I just don't know what to make of this situation, but it has me very concerned about the future of our legal market. ... A solution to consider for those who can, don't depend on the commercial market. Don't be harvested, be a grower.
They grow outdoors in eastern wa but most of our cannabis in western wa is indoor. That’s probably true in quite a few areas because of the weather. A lot of hydroponics.

CA has a huge illegal cannabis situation. They have illegal stores or they did not too long ago.
Speaking of black market weed, I'm seeing videos with Californian and other established growers moving to much less expensive Oklahoma.

Oklahoma has 4M people with 9000 official grower's licenses. The OMMA is starting (4 years late) a seed to dispensary tracking system on the one hand, while openly talking about being ready for national dominance once fully legalized, due to the central location and multiple minimal costs.

Below is a crazy local news segment from a couple of months back. I'm guessing they really only got 2000 processed pounds, and some news person tried to calculate the street value, but they did catch a shady outfit with nine out of control farms.

In the second video, a small twister hit another farm with 25 low budget greenhouses a few days ago. They're everywhere.

I'm a Texan but have been here >10 years. The competition is amazing. There might be 500 dispensaries in the OKC area.

Not sure if it's greenhouse grown, but I recently got a couple of killer ounces of Lilac Diesel (24% THC, supposedly a sativa, and loaded with sweet terps) for $41.54 each incl tax.

Lilac Diesel 4-14-22.jpg


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