Washington state will consider allowing small cannabis farmers to sell directly to consumers, similar to what’s allowed for wineries, breweries and distilleries, according to the state’s top marijuana regulator.
The move, if approved by regulators, would give smaller growers a financial shot in the arm through increased sales – and could spur other states to follow suit.
Washington also would be following the lead of a few Canadian provinces that allow licensed producers to sell marijuana to consumers at cultivation facilities.
Rick Garza, director of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, spoke this week to the Cannabis Collaborative Conference in Portland, Oregon, and was joined by Steve Marks, executive director of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
Both marijuana czars spoke of coming changes to each state’s program in response to ongoing oversupply issues that are causing problems for cannabis companies.
Garza attributed some of the financial difficulties facing small farmers to the lack of vertical integration in the market.
Colorado’s market is vertically integrated, for example, and if a grower has a retail license, it’s allowed to sell product in a store.
“There’s a lot of difficulty in the industry … but I’ve never heard a consumer complain about the system we set up in Washington,” Garza added.
Marks said he expects more discussion about capping the number of cannabis business licenses in Oregon through legislative action.
“There’s a lot of competition. There’s a lot of distress. A lot of retail outlets. Low prices,” Marks said.
“We’re seeing successes and we’re seeing a lot of people who are having trouble.”
Marks also said he has seen an infusion of capital into Oregon cannabis companies from investors who believe marijuana will become federally legal.