A California lawmaker has proposed a new bill that would allow adult-use weed to be sold at farmers markets and other outdoor events throughout the state.
Assembly Bill 2691, proposed by Assemblymember Jim Wood (D), would allow small cannabis cultivators to apply for temporary permits allowing them to sell legal weed at specific events. Farmers markets or other outdoor events that wanted to allow weed sales would also need to apply for a permit. All licenses would need to be approved by the state Department of Cannabis Control, which would also have the authority to deny permits to events that do not meet a strict set of guidelines.
Local cannabis industry advocates are excited about the new bill, as it would offer smaller businesses a chance to connect with local buyers. Genine Coleman, executive director of Origins Council, an advocacy organization that represents about 900 small local pot producers, told KCRA 3 that the bill “is definitely a huge potential opportunity for our membership.” Coleman added that since most of the cultivators represented by Origins produce less than an acre of weed each, having “direct marketing and sales opportunities with consumers is really critical."
Some market owners are less than enthusiastic about the new bill, though. "We really are interested in selling food, so at this point, cannabis is not a food,” said Davis Farmers Market Alliance Executive Director Randii MacNear to KCRA 3. "I'm sure you'll see some of this product at other markets but not here in Davis.” The vast majority of California localities have already banned all local cannabis sales as well, which would limit the total number of events that would be able to sell weed if the bill were to pass.
The bill has already passed one Assembly committee, but to become law it must still pass another committee and then be approved by the full state legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom. If the bill does succeed, it would certainly provide assistance to many of the state's smaller weed businesses, many of which are struggling to even turn a profit. High taxes, robberies, and fierce competition with multi-state cannabis corporations and black market dealers have made times especially hard for small local pot growers.
“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 1 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,” said Assm. Wood in a statement sent to KCRA 3.
“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,” Wood continued. “This is not about circumventing retailers, but growing the industry overall.”