A Massive California Greenhouse Signals Bets on Cannabis Legalization!


This is how California cannabis plays out over the long haul. The greenhouse complex, rising two floors from perfectly straight rows of parsley, artichokes, and strawberries, hums with solar-powered efficiency, its enormous airy interiors scented with the sticky plant that fills most of it.

Just over the bend of Pacific Coast Highway from Malibu’s amusement parks are the fertile flatlands that have attracted farmers for years. A nine-figure wager on the future of cannabis in California is being placed on this open plain at the moment; the wager is on the likelihood that, over the next few years.

cannabis will be available to adults across the country in the same convenient manner as hard seltzer and craft beer. This wager was made by Graham Farrar. Glass House Farms, of which he is president and co-founder, has a 5-million-square-foot greenhouse where cannabis may be grown inside.

Over 114 acres is roughly 86 football fields’ worth of space. A voluble evangelist for cannabis and his business, Farrar claims this greenhouse complex is the largest one of its kind in the United States. Farrar’s commercial plans call for the weed to be gathered from these climate-controlled cathedrals to be shipped elsewhere.

Try taking a look around you. The crop here grows just a few miles from highway-side outlet malls, a booming regional airport, and the huge blue stretch and logo smile of an Amazon warehouse and distribution center, a far cry from the misty northern redoubts of the state’s ancient cannabis culture.

These local aspirations shed light on Farrar’s own restless intent: to establish a cannabis business on a national scale, despite the fact that his product is legal in the Republic of California but is still illegal in the United States of America.

The best cannabis in the world can be produced on a national scale, and I have the capability to do so when the time is perfect,” Farrar boasted on a recent trip. When legalization is implemented on a national level, Farrar said, “this farm goes from feeling incredibly enormous to really small.”

It’s not so much “if” but “when” that’s crucial. Six years ago, voters in California legalized recreational cannabis use for adults, and since then, a highly regulated market has developed, with rules mostly established by the state’s 58 counties and hundreds of towns.

There are winners and losers among the state’s 8,000 licensed farmers due to the lack of universal state regulations dictating how much cannabis can be grown and how many firms should be licensed to sell it. However, the state government brings in over $1 billion yearly from the roughly $5 billion cannabis sector in the form of tax money.

The small growers have taken a lot of hits. Many people have been unable to become legally compliant due to the high cost of the various taxes and permits necessary, or to survive the recent acute supply glut in the western marijuana market because they have not been able to obtain bank loans. Other cultivators avoided the spotlight by never emerging from the shadows.

The cannabis industry in California is the largest in the United States, but around two-thirds of it is still operated illegally. Big producers like Glass House, which has its main facility down south but also has two smaller greenhouses up north in Carpinteria, are among the beneficiaries.

Big and small farmers agree that there aren’t nearly enough cultivation and retail permits available, yet the corporation has managed to get both. In California, you can buy alcohol from almost seventy-five times as many locations as you can buy a legal joint.

The next step is to expand the sale of marijuana from California to neighboring states and eventually the entire country. The required legal procedure has lately quickened. Although federal law still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I substance, twenty additional states and the District of Columbia have made it lawful for adults to use recreationally.

Farrar and other entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry believe that the I don’t actually see you pretense with which the Joe Biden administration and its predecessors have approached this two-tiered legal world will eventually go away.

To facilitate the export of cannabis products from California to other states that have legalized the drug, the state legislature approved a bill last year. Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, who signed the measure, will work out the trade details with other governments.

First, there are a few things that need to be done. In a letter to the state attorney general’s office at the end of last month, the chief counsel for the state Department of Cannabis Regulation, Matthew Lee, asked for a legal opinion on whether or not federal penalties would be levied against California if it allowed interstate trading in cannabis.

Within the context of his lengthy eight-page letter, Lee provided the solution to his own query. Lee recently stated in an interview that the state or cannabis firms would be taking a risk “not qualitatively different” from what they are facing currently by disobeying federal law if they were to enable trade with Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Colorado, all of which have legalized cannabis.

Simply put, “all we do is illegal,” Farrar stated. Already, we’ve been behaving as though we broke into a hotel room, but we’re committed to leaving before check-out. Okay, then. That law is so inconsistent, how are you expected to make sense of it? A number of other states have also recently taken similar steps.

Many years ago, Oregon passed a statute that legalized commerce over state lines. A case brought by an Oregon citizen late last year challenges that restriction on constitutional grounds, as the law was linked directly to federal legalization, a high bar to cross.

Legislation to legalize cross-border trade is underway in both Washington and New Jersey, according to Lee, suggesting “that perhaps this idea’s time has come.” Given the historical mystery surrounding its origin, Farrar and others in the industry feel California’s cannabis would have an advantage in any new market.

Marketers compare cannabis production in California to cigar production in Cuba. In order to raise the $92 million necessary to purchase this greenhouse, Farrar and his partners have to list Glass House on the Canadian market in the fall of 2021. (The total cost increased to around $125 million due to the need to retrofit the buildings.)

Unfortunately for Farrar, cannabis cultivation was illegal in Ventura County, where the greenhouse is located. In order to legalize cannabis production in the county, he and his associates pushed to have the issue appear on the 2020 ballot. A majority of voters approved it.

The following year, Farrar opened for business in this wonderful location. Just beyond the greenhouse’s soaring windows, a jagged line of mountain peaks descends toward the Pacific Ocean. A $250,000 rooftop robot is used to keep the glass clean because any obscuration of the sun’s rays results in decreased crop output.

Only natural sunlight is employed throughout cultivation. Only a little distance to the west, the Pacific Coast Highway begins one of its most famous segments, winding its way south over gentle cliffs above the sea and sand into Malibu, Santa Monica, and Los Angeles, home to a massive, underserved market of pot smokers.

The facility can sustain itself with very little outside help. It has three very large water tanks and its own groundwater wells. The greenhouse grows a hundred different strains of cannabis, including Crop Duster, Purple Push, and Jealousy, using three acres of solar panels that gently rotate to follow the light.

At harvest time, the rows of mature plants can stretch for hundreds of yards down a central aisle, with carts running on tracks between them. Cutting down the branches that are laden with buds would be extremely taxing and time-consuming for the employees if they had to do it all on foot.

The limbs are then transferred to rolling baggage carts for transport to the trimming and drying area. The lowest point of technology in this procedure is the clothes hangers used to suspend the actual branches.

Workers in white lab coats and masks sit at stainless steel tables in the bright lights, cutting away unwanted stems and other flaws to the tune of upbeat Ranchera music. There is a year-round staff of 200 employees. The remaining tasks are completely automated.

In order to ensure that all of the plants in the greenhouse get enough sunlight throughout the day, the knee-high cannabis plants in the greenhouse’s nursery are routinely relocated to a different region of the greenhouse by robots.

The plants in the long, shallow troughs are monitored by software that detects when they need watering. Farrar, 45, a native of Santa Barbara, recommended the city to survivors of the zombie apocalypse. Weed, food, electricity, water, and power are all in the cards for us. Is it reasonable to put your faith in him? The cannabis community begins to shrink at this point.

Think about the January letter sent to the Attorney General’s office by the Cannabis Control Division. Democrat from the Bay Area and former legalization supporter Rob Bonta is now the state’s attorney general. There is little chance that Bonta will decide international trade is too much of a hassle.

General Counsel Lee of the Cannabis Division has stated that he anticipates an opinion from the AG’s office within the next year. Yet, the ultimate goal is federal legalization, and another influential Californian may be the catalyst for this shift.

When it comes to federal drug “scheduling,” or categorization, President Biden requested last fall that cannabis be reevaluated as one of the nation’s most dangerous banned substances. Opponents of the classification point to the excessive drug war as the reason for their stance.

The ban has persisted, however, in part because of unanswered uncertainties regarding the impact of marijuana on the brain, especially among young users, who would not be eligible to purchase the drug even if it were legalized.

If a review is to be conducted, whose department is it, and who runs it? Xavier Becerra, Trump’s HHS secretary, and California’s attorney general at the time of the voter-approved marijuana legalization, has vowed to uphold the legislation despite open hostility from the president.

Farrar is moving forward with legalization in mind; his first cannabis plant was a 2×3-foot plot in his apartment closet at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He plans to increase the greenhouse’s cannabis production by one million square feet by the end of the year.

At a profit margin of about 45 percent, the cannabis harvest will far outstrip the single-digit returns on investment in the neighboring greenhouse’s celery crop. “My mission is to provide as much cannabis to as many people as I can at the lowest possible price,” Farrar has said. “Of all the California farms, this one has the best chance of making significant progress toward that goal.”

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