US (CA): Third generation family farm forced to stop due to falling cannabis prices

Brandon Wheeler has grown cannabis professionally for 20 years. His parents grew cannabis before him, and so did his grandparents. Despite these deep roots in the industry, he still felt a weight lift when he pulled his last cannabis plants out of the ground this July and shut down his legal cannabis farm in Mendocino County. He was happy to be leaving the family business.

“It was sad and depressing, but it was also a relief because running a cannabis farm just had taken a serious toll on my mental and physical health, and the same with my family,” Wheeler recently said. “So it was like, why are we putting ourselves through this? It’s not worth it anymore.”

Wheeler’s story is not unique. Cannabis farms across the state are shutting down as wholesale cannabis prices have crashed by as much as 95% since California voters legalized cannabis in 2016, according to SFGATE interviews with over a dozen California cannabis farmers, who could get as much as $2,000 for a pound of cannabis in 2016. Today, they’re lucky to get $400 — and some cannabis is selling for as little as $100 a pound.

Growers like Wheeler say this drop in revenue has made it almost impossible to make money growing legal cannabis. Economists have been predicting that legalization would cause a drop in wholesale cannabis prices since states first began discussing cannabis reform. But cannabis farmers say that California’s government has made the problem worse than it has to be by enforcing expensive government regulations and allowing the largest cannabis farms to grow infinitely large.

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