Cannabis cultivators in the Emerald Triangle are concerned about their futures as prices continue to plummet for their products. Johnny Casali, the owner of Huckleberry Hill Farms, a marijuana farm in southern Humboldt County, said, “This is an extinction event. Things are really, really bad,” referring to a recent wholesale price deficit in California’s outdoor-grown marijuana market.
This time last year, a pound of the top quality, sun-grown, light dep cannabis cost between $1,200 to 1,600, according to Chris Anderson, the founder of Humboldt County-based distributor Redwood Roots and a former cannabis cultivator himself. Broader wholesale prices settled between $800 to $1,000 per pound. Now, the same quality marijuana is going for as low as $400 to $600 per pound and “going downhill,” though some outdoor growers are still able to sell their cannabis in the $800-1000 range, according to Anderson. Anderson said that price is for the best outdoor cannabis money can buy, “fresh, sun-grown, light dep,” which he noted is limited and difficult to find.
In comparison, Anderson says that indoor-grown, “shitty, low-end” cannabis is able to fetch approximately $1000/pound, up towards $3,000/pound for the best “designer, truly AAA, best indoor pot in the industry.” He noted that lower quality cannabis, both indoor and outdoor, exists in nearly “endless” quantities. Data firms such as Leaflink have not yet registered a price drop per a representative for Leaflink saying it was “too soon to see definitive or robust data for this summer’s outdoor price drops.”
But all of that’s only in the legal market. In other parts of the country, pounds of the same quality marijuana trade at higher multiples in the illegal market, in some amounting up to $5,000. Anderson noted that supply and demand still rule the day, followed by quality. Indoor cannabis always sells for higher prices and outdoor lower, owing to outdoor cannabis’ lesser potency compared with top-shelf indoor, as well as its potentially variable appearance. The price deficit is expected to only get worse as the marijuana harvest season comes to a close in late October and November.
Along with that, a remaining surplus of outdoor-grown cannabis from last year’s harvests is expected to keep prices low for “at least the next couple of years”, Anderson said. At that point, according to industry insiders, many small farmers could be all but wiped off the legal marijuana farming map. Natalynne Delapp, executive director of the Humboldt Country Growers Alliance, said, “This state has an over-production problem.” She explains that because of the local control provision of Proposition 64, numerous municipalities in California have opted out of allowing sales and distribution within their limits, resulting in a lack of enough places to sell the vast amount of legal cannabis grown in the Golden State.
It’s unfortunate that due to cannabis legalization there are still equality and equity issues within the industry that need to be addressed.