Eliza Pires | Owner | Sanctuary Farms | Yuba City, California
What is the Cannabis industry getting right in terms of equality and equity?
Seeing the equity programs, Cannabis alliances, and local dispensaries take hold and support small farms and businesses in counties statewide is definitely a step in the right direction.
What challenges are facing the Cannabis industry in terms of equality and equity?
One of the most obvious obstacles in the way of reaching equity in the Cannabis industry lies with the federal scheduling and prohibition. Federally legalizing, or at least descheduling, would allow us to operate much like existing companies that produce medicinal and recreational products. This inhibits our access to banking. Although it is possible to get banking for a Cannabis business, we are subject to exorbitant monthly fees that make it almost impossible for a small farmer to maintain. Small farmers face a number of local and state challenges as well. The most glaring example of inequity lies in the ability of each county to develop its own ordinance, instead of following a statewide set of rules. This way, farmers in some counties are limited to 10,000 square feet of cultivation (or less), while other counties allow for the state’s full four acres. This makes it difficult to compete with farms allowed to cultivate 15 times (or more) our square footage.
We also encounter a disparity between the state granting us the right to do business, and the counties holding us back with long, drawn-out, and limiting processes. All of this is compounded by the multitude of fees, price gouging when Cannabis is mentioned, and the expectation of funds upfront before product sales, have many small farms and businesses giving up before they even get started – issues that our wealthy, well-funded counterparts have no trouble with. In order to bring equity into the Cannabis industry, there must be a shift away from money outweighing knowledge and experience. This would open the doors for those of us who intend to supply the market with quality.