One Cannabis Grower’s View of Prop 64
I am a Californian.
I’ve built my life here. I married the girl of my dreams here. I’m a father of four and a grandparent as well. My two eldest, my brother and I went to Humboldt State, a university where my mother taught for many years. I’ve coached soccer and volunteered at my local radio station. I donate to youth activities, veterans groups and the Red Cross. I like baseball and proudly support our semi-pro team. Go Crabs! My parents live next door and between us, we have seven dogs. After a long day, nothing makes me happier than being at home with my family.
And I grow pot.
Like so many people in Humboldt County, I’ve worked in and around the cannabis industry for my entire adult life. I’ve seen it all from growing in the back woods to sophisticated greenhouses, from the days of cops in helicopters and hidden plants in trees to the arrival of Prop 215 and the proliferation of indoor grows. But we are entering a new era and I could not be more hopeful.
I believe that prop 64 is good for my industry and good for my home state of California.
Like farmers everywhere, my life is tied to the land. Our farm sits on the banks of the Mattole River, tucked away in California’s Lost Coast and King Range. Together, they create the perfect Cannabis terroir. It’s the love and respect we feel for that terroir that drives everything we do here at Winterbourne Farms. The rain fills our million-gallon pond, watering our crops without impacting our watershed. A 60-panel solar grid generates all the electricity we need, simply and elegantly. This land gives us so much year after year and we are responsible for its protection.
Unfortunately, not every grower feels the same. But now that Prop 64 has passed, they’ll have to change. Whether it’s fishing, logging or cannabis, environmental destruction is far more likely to occur in an unregulated industry. Prop 64 establishes statewide guidelines that will ensure cultivation licensees comply with a comprehensive list of environmental regulations.
The onset of regulation is already allowing responsible cultivators to differentiate their products and methods from those who are aren’t so responsible. Many of us having been investing in “best practices” for a long time, but we’ve been unable to get that information to our consumers. Things like stored water, organic growing methods and alternative energy make a big difference in the resulting products and their sustainability.
Over my entire career, I’ve watched “bad actors” get the same prices for their products, knowing that they care less about their quality, their customers and the environment. Prop 64 begins to level the playing field by making sure that best practices are already in place before a grower can obtain a license. From now on, California can be confident that its cannabis is produced responsibly.
The black market will soon become less marketable and less valuable.
In the past, lack of regulation has kept us from making investments in new technologies and efficiencies that will take even the best cultivators to the next level. No business can invest in cutting-edge technology in an uncertain legal climate. Prop 64 increases our access to the capital required to make these investments and strengthens the justification to do so. Better technology will allow us to continue to reduce our production costs and environmental footprint.
As an employer, these regulations will allow me to develop a safer, more stable work environment. Instead of seeking help through word of mouth, we can advertise to find the best and most qualified people for the job. Now we can provide our employees with workman’s comp insurance and continue to withhold the proper tax. We will better serve our workers while increasing revenue for the state California. All while making employment with “bad actors” seem less attractive.
Consumers in California understand the importance of knowing how the products they buy are produced. Is this grown locally? Is this single origin? Does the company treat their employees well? We all expect this information to be readily available when we buy produce, coffee, wine, beer, and all kinds of other products. We should expect the same from the cannabis industry. Consumers need to be confident that they are buying what we tell them they are buying. Prop 64 allows for that kind of transparency.
There is no reason for secrecy anymore.
To that end, I volunteered my farm to make the first Track and Trace sale in California’s history. Run by the Humboldt County Agriculture Department, the Track and Trace pilot program ensures compliance with a number of criteria which are critical to both consumer confidence and the success of a tax-paying industry. All of my flowers are tracked from either seed or clone to the point of sale.
This lets the consumer know that my products are grown in Humboldt County under state and county guidelines, they are lab tested, and they will not be diverted into the black market.
But even with all of these regulations to keep us honest and California safe, it’s up to us to be the stewards of our industry. It’s our job to go above and beyond, continually reminding voters that they have made the right decision. That’s why we’ve made a commitment to instill the love of our land and communities into our corporate structure by establishing ourselves as a Benefit Corporation. Benefit Corporations rank positive impact on employees, communities and the environment right up there with profit as the signs of a successful business. We hope to inspire others in our industry to do the same.
Yesterday the future of the cannabis in California was uncertain, but today, it is bright. While I know there are challenges ahead, the voters of California have given my industry an incredible opportunity. We must embrace it with respect, transparency, and love for the land and people that continue to support us. Together, we can create a responsible, sustainable cannabis industry. Prop 64 means better for our products, better for our customers, better for the environment.
And that means better for California.