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Do Cannabis Companies Face Consequences for Opposing Home Grows?

Cannabis reform is rooted in home cultivation. Therefore with legalization, many advocates and patients believe it’s essential for individuals to have a right to cultivate their own plants, especially in a regulated market. Chronic NewsWe explore the pervasiveness and potential harm to communities caused by companies opposing home growth.

Luke Zimmerman Esq. is an Oaksterdam University teacher and cannabis lawyer. Luke said homegrowing allows each person to have a special relationship with cannabis. He added, “If everyone has a right to grow a limited amount of cannabis, it will be the final nail in the coffin for shifting the outdated paradigm of cannabis being a gateway drug.”

Although not widespread, it is still alarming that cannabis companies have sometimes criticized home cultivation laws in certain states. Some in the cannabis industry have expressed suspicion that other leading figures may oppose home cultivation. But, this belief is largely based on intuition. 

New York is undoubtedly home to the largest record against home-grown. The December 2019 issue of the New York Times. Politico reported that in the lead up to then-Governor Andrew Cuomo’s legalization plans being revealed, the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association (NYMCIA) had written to him in hopes of keeping home cultivation out of the Empire State. The members of the group were Acreage NY (Columbia Care), Etain MedMen PharmaCann and Vireo Health. 

In a chapter title “The Fallacy of Home Grow,” the letter cited that despite high medical costs and freedom of choice via home grow, the group opposed the measure, citing risks to public health and the ongoing unlicensed market.

New York adopted its adult-use legislation in 2021. Home growing was allowed. 

In 2020, Make It Legal Florida’s legalization petition included provisions that would prohibit Floridians from cultivating their plants. Make It Legal Florida’s primary backers were Parallel and MedMen, pumping $8.2 million into the campaign beginning in August 2019. MedMen was also involved in the New York Leadership letter. As of this article’s submission, MedMen has not replied to Chronic News‘ request for comment. 

The petition was rejected by the Florida Supreme Court in April 2021 because of misleading language. 

Advocates, Companies and Businesses Call for Home Growth 

Home cultivation is supported by advocates for many reasons. The primary reason for home cultivation may vary depending on which advocate you ask. 

  • Plant history
  • High legal costs/economic inequality
  • You have freedom of choice
  • Distance from sources
  • Unjust laws

Elana Frankel, a freelance media professional and the author of The Women’s and the WeedIt is. Frankel believes citizens should be able to decide if they wish their marijuana from a dispensary, a pharmacist or in their own backyard. Her experience with cannabis cultivation is similar to that of buying fresh produce. Although she plants her own cannabis, she continues to buy from the shop. 

“Home cultivation is just a form of cannabis activism, rebellion of prohibition injustice,” said Frankel, calling it “political gardening.”

Scheril Murray Powell, Esq. Scheril Murray Powell, Esq. is an attorney in Florida who specializes in cannabis and agriculture. Murray sits on several U.S. and Jamaican cannabis boards. She believes that home cultivation is necessary for many reasons. Murray pointed out the origins of the cannabis plant as well the fact that the plant has been in use all around the world for many years before any regulations came into force. The rules are arbitrary, she said. She also stated that prohibition of plant use is not based upon science. She also stated that home cultivation is necessary due to the unique needs of each patient. 

“Individuals have different plant chemistry needs for their chronic conditions, and individuals have different plant chemistry needs for their endocannabinoid system,” stated Murray. Her belief is that home cultivation empowers people and helps them make more informed choices regarding what goes into their bodies. 

Although there are concerns that some major players in cannabis, whether they be on record or not, may oppose home-grown, it is clear that the opposition isn’t uniform. 

Kris Krane was the then-president at multi-state operator (4Front), and he stated in 2019 that he understood companies looking to make more money. He said that ultimately, the only thing that will cause opposition is companies trying to maximize their revenue. 

Marianne Cursetjee is CEO of Oregon’s Alibi Cannabis. According to the advisor and investor, West-based companies are more likely to encourage home cultivation. She shared the following: Chronic News that Oregon’s strong DIY culture includes home cannabis cultivation. This is why cannabis can be integrated into her Portland aesthetic. 

“I was at a backyard dinner party last night in Portland, and the neighbor had a very nice looking cannabis plant that he was tending,” Cursetjee reported. She added, “Not everyone has the time, interest, or capacity to grow plants, but having that as an option is very important.”

Supporters of the cannabis community philosophy may be concerned that major brands will oppose home growth, causing them to lose revenue or damage their reputation.

That, however, doesn’t appear to be the case so far. MedMen and other brands have had some difficulties, with recent stock drops of more than six percent in Q4 2021. The company saw a 55% increase in year-over-year earnings, with $42 million earned during the most recent quarter. Cresco Labs is another company that’s considered to be a major player on the U.S. market. Cresco Labs will release its next quarterly report in November 2021. 

Zimmerman believes a negative hit could come, “but that will likely only be from informed consumers who have taken the time to understand the issue.” He believes companies should embrace home growing so customers can understand the value of store-bought pot. 

“I have grown for the past five seasons, and while I have learned a lot about the plant, what I am reminded of each year is that skills to cultivate quality cannabis take years to develop, especially if you are trying to cultivate for scale,” Zimmerman stated. 

While revenue doesn’t seem to be affected by home grow opinions, reputation among loyal consumers is still a concern to some operators. Dan Gower, the owner of Buddy Gardner Advertising, advises his cannabis clients to support home growing—with most onboard to distribute helpful information for home growers. 

“I remind all of my clients that this information is available anyway, so there is little benefit to being on the wrong side of history because of a futile effort to protect their own profits,” said Gower. 

Analysts and operators told the reporter in conversations that federal legalization could reduce market dominance of MSOs. Some believe that big brands may fall to regional and more famous brands once this period is over. Although this is purely speculation, it may prove to be true that brands could face financial consequences if they oppose home-grown cannabis or any other fundamental cannabis advocate ethos. Their opposition has little or no effect on their brand and bottom line at the moment.