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California Legislative Panel Approves Bill for Cannabis Farmers Markets |

California’s legislative committee gave approval this week to legislation that would allow small cannabis farmers to direct sell their produce to customers at farmers markets. Assembly Bill 2691 was approved Tuesday by the Assembly Business and Professions Committee with a 10-1 vote.

The bill was introduced in February by Democratic Assemblymember Jim Wood, who represents a large swath of California’s famed Emerald Triangle cannabis growing region. Under the measure, the state’s Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) would be authorized to issue temporary event retail licenses to licensed cannabis growers with no more than one acre of land under cultivation. 

Only special event licenses for retail would be issued to cannabis farmers markets that are in compliance with current law. According to current regulations, cannabis growers are allowed to take part in special events. However, they cannot sell directly to the public. Instead, consumers must make their purchases at licensed dispensaries. Wood spoke out about the bill to local media and stated that it would provide small growers with an additional revenue stream they need.

“It is no secret that cannabis businesses throughout the state are struggling, whether it’s taxes, compliance costs, competing with the illicit market or other challenges, but the focus of AB 2691 is to help legal cannabis farmers who grow less than one acre of cannabis get consumer recognition for their unique products, much as has been done for craft beer, artisanal wine and other family farm agricultural products,” Wood said.

“Giving these smaller farmers opportunities at locally approved events to expose the public to their products increases consumer choice and offers farmers a better chance to reach retail shelves which is their ultimate goal,” he continued. “This is not about circumventing retailers, but growing the industry overall.”

For small growers only

The DCC and the local authorities must license a grower to cultivate cannabis in order to be eligible for a special-event retail license. Also, the cultivator cannot have more cannabis than one acre under cultivation. This cap includes all grower licenses. The licenses may only be used for special occasions. There is a limitation of 12 licenses per year.

AB 2691 is supported by craft growers groups including the Origins Council, which represents about 900 growers in California’s historic cannabis cultivation areas. Genine Coleman, executive director of the advocacy group, said that the legislation would benefit most of the Origins Council’s members.

“The vast majority of them are producing half an acre or less of cannabis, so this is definitely a huge potential opportunity for our membership,” Coleman said. “For small-scale producers to have direct marketing and sales opportunities with consumers is really critical.”

Drew Barber (owner-operator East Mill Creek Farms) and co-founder at Uplift Co-op stated that this legislation would enable cannabis growers to tell their stories to customers, who would in turn be able to form a relationship with their favorite brands.

“This bill could patch up a really needed missing piece to the puzzle for us as cultivators of high-end cannabis,” Barber told the Lost Coast Outpost. “The ability to connect with our consumers in this day and age seems like one of the major assets that could and should come along with regulation, right? It is important that the consumer knows who grows their marijuana. We feel like our stories say a lot about both the quality of the product as well as the types of farming that we do.”

Ross Gordon (policy director, Humboldt County Growers Alliance, HCGA), and chair of the Origins Council stated that AB 2691 would allow the cannabis industry to be recognized as an agriculturally legitimate enterprise.

“For us, this bill is a major step forward in recognizing that cannabis farmers are farmers, and we need access to the same types of sales opportunities that allow other small farmers to sustain a livelihood,” he said. “Every step towards normalization, whether it’s the conversation around cultivation taxes or farmer’s markets, brings us closer to a point where cannabis is treated at parity with other agriculture.”