California dreaming. The Napa Valley, wine and marijuana
Marijuana was legalised in California in 2016 and as from next year it should be a whole lot easier to grow it as an agricultural product in the Napa Valley.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports the Napa County Board of Supervisors decided to put a proposal – the Napa County Cannabis Regulation Initiative – to a vote.
If given the green light, it would allow for the cultivation of cannabis for commercial use on land considered best suited to agriculture, though pot won’t be able to be grown on the same lot of land as a vineyard.
The proposal would allow businesses to grow just one acre of marijuana apiece, a far smaller area than many vineyards in the region, which can stretch to hundreds of acres.
The Napa Valley, renowned for its vineyards, has yet to permit cannabis farming, as a number of local grape growers fear the odour from the farms may contaminate grapes grown nearby.
The move to legalise commercial cannabis farming in Napa is being backed by the Napa Valley Cannabis Association, made up of entrepreneurs in both the wine and weed industries, who believe grapes and grass can happily co-exist.
The group gathered thousands of signatures in favour of the initiative, leading to the vote, which will take place on 3 March next year.
Eric Sklar, co-founder of the Napa Valley Cannabis Association, believes the commercial cultivation of cannabis in Napa would help boost the local economy.
“For two-and-a-half years all we’ve been asking is for the supervisors to have a discussion about what’s best for Napa Valley in terms of a cannabis ordinance, and that’s what they did at the last minute,” Sklar told the SFC.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported this month that California is on track to post a record $3.1 billion in licensed cannabis sales this year, solidifying its status as the largest legal marijuana market in the world.
Legal sales are up significantly from an approximate $2.5 billion in 2018, the first year of licensed cannabis sales in California, according to the analysis by sales-tracking firms Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics.
“Any market in the world would be ecstatic about a 23% growth rate,” analyst Tom Adams said. “That is fabulous for any industry to have that kind of growth.’’
But California’s black market for marijuana continues to flourish as high taxes and a refusal by most cities to allow licensed shops makes it sometimes cheaper and easier for people to buy from illicit dealers.