I woke up to an article from The Press Democrat this morning that has me a bit, well, miffed, let us say. The article outlines the recent legislation passed by Governor Jerry Brown in concern with how the new permitting process will cost growers thousands of dollars per year to operate legitimately.
Maybe this agitation is caused in part by the fact that this publication has a distribution majority that serves the same place where a lot of California's marijuana is grown — some irony there. But, in essence, the article discusses the plight of a small operation that has been operating ILLEGALLY and hardly recognizes their potential contribution (though "paving roads, hiring police and other public services" is, initially at least, mentioned). Correct. The same cops that used to bust you will now get paid by the weed you grow. Crazy, huh?
The message therein is that because it can be cost prohibitive for a small grow operation (considered 500-1000 sq. ft.) to go through the proper permitting — which costs $10,000 per year — when netting less than $100,000 per year, it will encourage these operations to stay in the dark and continue operating in the black market. This information better damn well be no revelation, though it is its spin that frustrates me.
Much like the fact that opening your own ice cream shop has many overhead costs that have to be accounted for on an annual basis, or you might consider the fact that not just any asshole can call up your local super market and start selling them lettuce, the cost of running a legitimate business is high. The regulation and administration that allows a market to exists costs quite a bit in itself.
What is revealing is that marijuana farmers have had it so good for so long, that they don't consider how lucrative the operation still is, even with fees applied! Think about cannabis cultivation compared to other forms of agriculture.
The average farmer in California will net less than a couple hundred dollars per acre unless they happen to have the initial capital to invest in a highly desirable location. Then, they better be growing grapes since a viticulturist can possibly become profitable after their third year of operation if both inherently knowledgeable and able to distribute costs over two decades.
One might counter that these folks have different funding, lending, or simply banking options that are not available to the marijuana industry. Yes, true. That is why we marijuana growers need take a small cut from a crazy-good return on investment in order to move out of the shadows in our continued pursuit of equality and reform legislation.