Business, News, Politics

Cannabis and California Farmers’ Markets Could Soon Meet Up

June 6, 2022 08:00 am ET
Cannabis and California Farmers’ Markets Could Soon Meet Up

Could you imagine going to your local farmers’ market to buy farm-fresh goods, including cannabis? You might not have to imagine this if you live in California thanks to Assembly Bill (AB) 2691.

The sponsor of AB 2691, Assemblyman Jim Wood, said, “The focus of the legislation is to help legal cannabis farmers who grow less than one acre of cannabis get consumer recognition for their unique products as the state has done for its craft beer, artisan wine, and family farm industries.”

AB 2691 recently passed through the Assembly Business and Professions Committee. That’s only the first of several steps for this bill before it can become a law. Next, AB 2691 has to pass the Assembly Appropriations Committee. If it’s successful there, it will move forward to the full Assembly and full Senate. If it makes it through all of these hurdles still intact, the final step would be earning the governor’s signature of approval.

AB 2691 is designed to allow small cannabis grows the opportunity to obtain a temporary permit that would allow them to sell cannabis and cannabis products at state-licensed cannabis events. This license would be obtained through the Department of Cannabis Control. Ultimately, it would make it possible for small farmers to bring their cannabis into a farm-to-table market.

Hope for Small Farmers and Cultivators

Wood released this statement to the media:

“It is no secret that cannabis businesses throughout the state are struggling, whether it’s taxes, compliance cost, competing with the illicit market or other challenges. 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. This is not about circumventing retailers but growing the industry overall. My office has always been open to those who may have concerns about this bill and I’m here to listen to their concerns and their proposed solutions.”

This could be good news for many small local farmers across the region. The director of Origins Council, Jenine Coleman, is a supporter of AB 2691. Origins Council is an advocacy organization with about 900 members consisting of rural cannabis farms throughout California. Coleman was quoted telling local media that the “vast majority of them are producing half an acre or less of cannabis, so this is definitely a huge potential opportunity for our membership. For small-scale producers to have direct marketing and sales opportunities with consumers is really critical.”

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

For every rainbow, there’s a dark cloud to block its beauty. In this case, that dark cloud is the executive director of Davis Farmers’ Market Alliance, Randi MacNear. MacNear views her position as one that oversees a food business. She told the media, “We really are interested in selling food, so at this point, cannabis is not a food. We’re trying to increase our local farmers. We’re trying to get new emerging Yolo County Farmers in here and give them a space to sell, so I think that probably we would stick with that concentration.”

In other words, even if AB2691 were to pass, the Davis County Farmers’ Market would likely remain the same. There’s that dark cloud blocking out a beautiful rainbow.

This shows just how misinformed some people are when it comes to the many aspects of the widely misunderstood plant known as cannabis. Cannabis is a crop with endless uses, including oral consumption. In fact, cannabis seeds are rich in vitamins and minerals and are loaded with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help improve digestion, increase physical energy, boost immune activity, lower harmful triglycerides, and promote a healthy heart. These seeds can be added to bread, salads, and all kinds of other foods. Hemp seeds are also found on the shelves of many grocery stores and in markets around the world.

But according to Randi MacNear, cannabis is not food. The term “food” is reserved for nutrition derived from a plant or animal origin. It doesn’t include beverages. But many different plants can be turned into delicious healthy beverages that are food. People juice and blend a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, roots, and herbs. So, if you go to a farmers’ market and buy carrots and apples to blend into a smoothie or juice, that’s food. If you were to add cannabis to that mix, it would also be considered food as it would increase the nutritional content.

Cannabis Offers Nutrition and More

Fresh, raw cannabis is an amazing source of vitamins, minerals, and more. Perhaps MacNear, who doesn’t believe cannabis is food, should contact a Northern California physician named Dr. William Courtney. Courtney believes that cannabis is the most important vegetable on the planet. Wait a second—did he just call cannabis a vegetable? Vegetables are edible portions of plants such as stems, roots, leaves, flowers, bulbs, and tubers and include foods like lettuce, potatoes, broccoli, carrots, celery, and onions. Cannabis has stems, roots, leaves, flowers, and bulbs, so isn’t that a vegetable?

MacNear told the media, “I’m sure you’ll see some of this product at other markets, but not here in Davis.” Really, it sounds like bias rather than science is running the Davis Farmers’ Market. Someone in MacNear’s position should be supportive of all small farmers in the jurisdiction, no matter their chosen crop. What do you think about Assembly Bill 2691? Let us know in the comments!

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