Northern California’s cannabis industry will become the focus of a pioneering study examining the economic impact of industry upon the region. The Humboldt Community Business Development Center (HCBDC) has partnered with the California Center for Rural Policy at Humboldt State University and Sonoma State University for a comprehensive look into the impact of cannabis farming, manufacturing, distribution and retail sales on the overall economy of a research area which includes the legendary Emerald Triangle (Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino counties). The HCBDC will develop the study through a grant from the California Bureau of Cannabis Control.
“It is widely understood that cannabis is a significant economic driver in rural northern California, yet four years into the regulation, legalization and taxation of California’s cannabis industry, we still do not have real, data-driven research and analysis on what is the true economic impact of the cannabis industry,” says Natalynne DeLapp, HCBDC Executive Director. “This grant will provide resources to answer long-standing questions, will help establish a baseline by which to measure the economic health of the cannabis industry, and by which public policies can be evaluated for efficacy for years to come.”
A chief cash crop in the area for decades, there has never been a thorough analysis of the role of cannabis to the local economy of rural Northern California. The study, which also encompasses Del Norte and Sonoma counties, will begin to harvest data in early 2021 on such issues as the impact of cannabis on the private and the public sectors, cannabis prices on the licensed and unlicensed markets, job creation, and taxes and government and administrative costs. Some of the questions this study will seek to address include:
- How much cannabis is produced by the North Coast cannabis community?
- How much is the region contributing to California’s GDP?
- How long have businesses been in the community and how much do they contribute to state and local taxes?
- How many people are employed; how much is paid in wages?
- How much are cannabis businesses paying in licenses, permits and fees?
“This proposal helps policymakers, advocates, private business, and local residents understand the economics and business aspects of the cannabis business as a combination of agriculture and manufacturing with supply-chain partners to deliver goods to retail and customers,” says economics professor Robert Eyler, Dean, Sonoma State University’s School of Extended and International Education, who will be leading the study. “This framing gets us away from the conversation of illegality and about how these businesses (similar to the wine or craft brew industries) harvest a crop that becomes a manufactured product.”
"For decades, rural northern California counties have incorporated the cannabis economy as an unplanned economic development strategy. This research will help these jurisdictions formulate long-term strategies to incorporate a significant, previously illegible, sector of their economies into a more sustainable, resilient future for their communities," says Dominic Corva, Co-Director, Humboldt Interdisciplinary Institute for Marijuana Research (HIIMR), Humboldt State University.