Senter didn’t qualify for an equity permit. But in November 2017, her business partner signed a memorandum of understanding to open a dispensary with Marshall Crosby, a personal trainer in his 50s who did qualify.
Of the state legalization experiments, California is, by far, the largest and most complex. For growers who operated in California’s gray and illegal markets and now want to transition into the legal market, the economics can be brutal. In the illegal market, an Emerald Triangle farmer might have sold a pound for $3,000 tax-free. Now the price is more like $600, before taxes and compliance-related costs.
‘A classic story of gentrification’
Even if this is true, the situation anticipates similar deals which may reward a few local individuals but extract profit out of the city for large corporations.
Today they’ve applied their intelligence to the endless intricacies of the California market. It both conforms to and departs from stoner stereotypes that most conversations at Meadow Lands dug into riveting topics like zoning variances, building materials and water use rules.
Marijuana farming in California
“Someone was just able to swoop in and sabotage fair business dealings; that’s wrong,” said Anne Kelson, an Oakland cannabis attorney who is not professionally involved in the case.
A marijuana field. Photograph: Stephanie Paschal / Rex Features
For the prospective grower that means knowing both the production side of the industry as well as the sales: you’ve got to be as good at producing pot as getting someone else to pay for it and smoke it.
2. Get to know the logistics
With so much money in the marijuana game, it may be difficult for the independent supplier to stand out – unless independence is seized upon as a virtue.
“I’ve done a lot of consulting work,” Adams says, “and one of the main issues that I see, especially in startups, is that there’s a knowledge gap between the marketing guys and the people on the ground. The people who work in the facility really need to be able to communicate with the patients and marketing side of things, and vice versa. It’s important that both sides understand each other.”
4. Build a boutique brand
One advantage the educated and licensed pot purveyor has over his illegal competitors is consistency. “With legal products you know exactly what you’re getting,” Adams says. “There are pesticide tests to make sure there are no residues on the plants. If you get it from an illegal supplier, those guys aren’t allowed to test their products. You have no idea what they’re putting on their plants. You don’t know how they’re handling it. If you get it from a licensed producer, you know that it’s clean and a lot safer.”