The Emerald infinity loop
In the midst of the 2019 harvest we were given the opportunity to travel to The Emerald Triangle where we filmed the Mendocino Cannabis Alliance Town Hall meeting in downtown Ukiah, among a few other private meetings with local farmers and compliance advocates in our ongoing quest to document the future [and legacy] of the Cannabis legacy in California. The gathering brought in hundreds of people from across the state to participate in what was a true expression of freedom and democracy in the U.S. It was one we were happy to attend, and proud to be a part of. The audience was informed, willing to listen to one another, productive, and re-assuring in an otherwise unpredictable and seemingly unstable political landscape these days.
We listened to both sides weigh in. Representatives from huge cannabis companies trickled in alongside the groves of local farmers who were obviously impassioned by their strength in numbers—a spiritual home field advantage—rooting them to their cause, their crop, and the desire for protection and expansion in what is still a moving target of a market and regulatory in CA (and U.S.).
Farmers need protection from what?
Cannabis patrons and core legacy cultivators fear the looming of big farms and big regulatory frameworks that could [strategically and slimily] put small, legal and licensed farms out of business so that a few elite players can swoop in and corner the market once the nation’s legal cloud is lifted. Given how we’ve seen this play out across agriculture of all sorts, vertical integration seems inevitable and scary for a population of people who have waited and paid their dues to experience the lifting of a national ban on marijuana.
In order for big tobacco to start supplying their boxes of ‘green lights’ a lot of things are going to have to happen. But once they do, the rush to make those products possible is going to be a massively disruptive force in the Cannabis industry. While we certainly believe big companies should have the right to be included in the opportunity that will exist [and already does in almost half the country]—we are also firm believers in the preservation of small farmers and the localization of production [especially where it is culturally and environmentally significant]. Most importantly, we are committed to supporting the national legislation movement and producing influential media that encourages a regulatory landscape that is inclusive of BOTH large-scale supply chain businesses and small / craft farmers in what should become a robust and diverse cannabis cultivation market in the United States in the future.
Getting there will inevitably require the type of listening and compromise that was exuded in Ukiah with the MCA… and a policy framework what is capable of protecting the interests of a very diverse audience – as well as listening to the experts that we got a chance to sit down with.