Northern California

A commonly-seen guess of how many cannabis farmers there are in Humboldt County is around 10,000. Similar guesses exist for the neighboring counties. A lot of those plots are “trespass grows” on private or public land. Then, a lot are on the up-and-up, minding their ways, paying taxes, and desperately seeking more certain rules to live by.

This is the start of the growing season in Norcal, which will be completed before the new rules take effect. Until then, it’s status quo.

I mentioned the water tanks in Eureka for farmers anticipating the new water rules. In Santa Rosa (Sonoma County), land and warehouses have doubled in asking price, making it even more difficult to those needing to come out of the hills to grow compliantly.

Growing compliantly in California is going to be a very complicated, expensive, and risky business. In addition to the developing medical and recreational laws and regulations for the state, each of the 50-some counties can set their adjustments as they feel necessary, likewise the 500-some towns and cities. Then, throw in a few other regional agencies like coastal use or water districts or the agriculture agencies. And then, they can all change their rules.

California governments are voracious for more revenue, and some of the proposals floating around for taxes and fees are breathtaking. Usually the term “Green Rush” refers to money flowing into the pot businesses around here, but it’s looking like the government is the one on the real green rush.

I’ve not seen the end of ideas on how to tax cannabis, and I look in a lot places. California has invented some new ones, and they have a lot of time to keep going with their creative juices.

If the goal is to bring the trespasser growers out of the forest and into the light, they’ll need a consultant, a lawyer, an accountant, and lot of cash. Faced with that, I’d expect a portion of them decide that what they’ve been doing for 40 years has been fine.

Washington and Colorado have successful programs in large part due to the simplicity of the systems developed before anyone knew anything. California is doing something else entirely. But, they do grow the best cannabis in the country….

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