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edible Monterey Bay Winter 2016

www.ediblemontereybay.com 23 With the presidential campaign having held many local residents’ attention hostage during the 2016 election cycle, the passage by a margin of 56% to 44% of Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, came as a surprise to many Monterey Bay area residents. But for those in the local agricultural community, Prop 64 was a little more on the forefront of their minds, raising questions such as how it would affect land prices, whether they should consider moving to cannabis production, how many local food producers would do so, and how the newly legal crop would be regulated. In Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties, which some say are well-positioned to exploit the passage of Prop 64, local agriculture agencies have been waiting and watching, as have some local farmers who are considering a switch to this potentially more lucrative crop. And investors have been busily positioning themselves to get in on the ground floor of the many millions—perhaps billions—of dollars that will be generated by cannabis cultivation, processing and recreational sales. “I’m sure that people are putting together business plans and getting ready to make their move,” said Nesh Dhillon, Santa Cruz County Farmers’ Markets operations manager, just before the November election. Although Dhillon says he has no personal knowledge of farmers looking to jump on the marijuana bandwagon, he’s sure that it’s being discussed in the local agricultural community, and “you’d be foolish to show your hand at this point.” Jamie Collins, owner of Serendipity Farms, which cultivates organic row crops in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, says it wouldn’t surprise her at all if some small local farmers decide to grow cannabis to supplement their income. In casual conversations at fornians 21 and older are able to possess and use small amounts of cannabis legally as well as grow up to six plants per household. The next phase, according to the California Legalized website, is enactment of regulations, and then licensing, which kicks off lawful commercial activity—commercial cultivation, distribution, processing and sales by licensed non-medical entities—in January 2018. Businesses involved will have to be licensed, regulated, and most importantly, taxed. In fact, six local measures were on the ballot for taxation of marijuana in Monterey County, with the potential of raising millions for cities and counties that approve such taxes. Santa Cruz County has taxed medical marijuana since 2014, putting some $2.4 million annually into its general fund. Prop 64 will also create two new state excise taxes on marijuana, with revenue used to cover costs of administrating and enforcing ON THE FARM CANNABIS BOWL OF THE WORLD? Marijuana legalization promises challenges as well as opportunities for the Monterey Bay agricultural community BY KATHRYN MCKENZIE • PHOTOGRAPHY BY KEN PAYTON area farmers’ markets, she’s heard it discussed between the stalls. “ey won’t just stop growing food,” says Collins, who envisions small farmers adding a marijuana greenhouse or two to complement the rest of their crops. “It’s hard to make a decent living (as a small farmer)…a lot of growers have it on their minds.” But she herself chose to vote against Prop 64 because of various concerns about how cannabis cultivation would be regulated under the new rules, and where resulting tax money would be spent. California—the first state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana, in 1996—was one of four states, including Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada, to vote in November to make recreational use legal, following similar moves in recent years by Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Under the terms of the initiative, which took effect immediately after the vote, Cali- Cannabis attorney Gavin Kogan


edible Monterey Bay Winter 2016
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