WA ponders allowing small marijuana growers to sell direct to consumers

washington state marijuana

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.

Latest Headlines

41 comments on “WA ponders allowing small marijuana growers to sell direct to consumers
  1. Booger on

    “There’s a lot of competition. There’s a lot of distress. A lot of retail outlets. Low prices,” Marks said.

    What a crock. MJ should be down to like 1-2$/gr, NOT 10$/gr!

    • Gabe Palmer on

      Are you trolling? It costs more than $1 to even grow a gram of flower. Everyone involved would go out of business at those prices. Remember the producer only takes home ~1/3 of the shelf price in most cases. You can find quality $100 ounces out there which definitely beats black market pricing.

      • James on

        That’s funny hey buddy let me tell you something about a month ago I bought a 15 pound watermelon for seven bucks let that sink in smarty-pants … And don’t even try to tell me there’s some sort of miracle growing system that makes marijuana so hard to produce it isn’t and there isn’t, I could teach a child or the elderly myself in less than a month how to do it on an expert level… set me up and test my theory ( absolute truth ) if you don’t believe me.

        • An actual cannabis grower on

          …a watermelon? Are you seriously comparing growing Cannabis to planting a watermelon seed outside and watering it? Your comment is so stupid I dont even know why I am responding. You are deliriously ignorant pal.

      • ABEL on

        Producers take home less than that. If lucky a store will buy at 3.33g otherwise its mostly around the 2 to 3$ then Retail stores mark it up 3 to 4 hundred percent then selling that 2$ gram the bought for 8 to 10$. Its retail making money. Growers are struggling. Most of the tier1 and 2 growers are gone because of retail stores lowballing the grower. Who has to sell it just to make something

        • Chris McDonald on

          Is there a chance any growers are interested in a direct-market solution that leverages a network of physicians that are interested in referring directly to a single reliable and reputable source? These would include a couple hundred chronic patient referrals, statewide, per week. I think that kind of stability would go a long way and I know my team of docs has been waiting a long time. Would love to discuss.

    • ABEL on

      You are crazy thinking cannabis at 1-2$ a gram. Electricity, building rent, emoyees, 60% Gross sales tax-Taxes with Zero deductions, insurance packaging. Now try to make any money at growing.

  2. D. David on

    You have never heard of complaints about the system in WA because of your agencies ” let them eat cake ” attitude

    We are supposed to be so grateful that you did what the voters forced you to do we have no avenue to complain

    Why am I still treated like a potential shop lifter when your silly rules insist that I may be old enough to buy it but I can’t touch the multi sealed package kept behind the counter. Does my local liquor store prohibit me from taking a bottle of Bourbon off the shelf and taking it up to the counter ?

    Labor costs alone would keep me out of the business. Despite the mystique and great past service from bud tenders,
    it’s time to accept that these are retail businesses and don’t need a clerk to hand customers their purchases

  3. Rick on

    “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.”

    As many other WA residents will no doubt agree, Garza’s not hearing anything negative because he’s not listening and doesn’t care what residents think. The Board’s no better, if consumers send them emails they simply don’t respond. I know because I’ve tried. Consumers screamed when the LCB tried to shut down edibles and they’ve been screaming about not being able to grow at home since day 1.

    I hate to say it but the LCB is just about as tone deaf as an agency can be, Mr. Garza proves that all by himself.

  4. Robert Houston on

    The legally licensed “small” growers have been pushed out of business in Washington. It is time for some fairness to be allowed and this initiative would due just that!
    Peace all ways . . .

  5. Halo Hat on

    Curious as to what a small grower would be defined by the law? May a small grower own a lot of small grows?

    I don’t know about other states however I think a legally allowed home grow would certainly be popular in Washington State.

    If high quality low price dispensaries like the OZ dispensary in Fremont have room to make a reasonable profit I’d be happy to keep goin there really. Wouldn’t hurt to allow a social aspect to the dispensaries i.e. cannabis lounges/clubs.

    • Jon on

      If they allowed it at home, they would lose millions of dollars with all the taxes and fees they levy. It’s just greed… It’s a cash cow for them. The state gets more money than the retailer and especially the grower, by a damn landslide. Why would they give that up? Maybe it’ll be better if it becomes federally legal, maybe not. And by effing small biz’s out of biz by the hundreds, they deal with so much less u til ultimately it’s just the larger, more stable, big hitters. It’s like Safeway vs. the kwik-e-mart. Who has batter prices? Certainly not Apu. And anything from the board that even hints towards caring what consumers OR growers think is only to maintain the illusion that what we think actually matters. It’s not as if the state didn’t go into this thing knowing EXACTLY what was going to happen. It was a great huge boost for our economy, but sooo many hard working, ambitious growers were set up to fail long before they legalized pot here in WA. The only reason I can foresee where we can grow from home and/or sell to our neighbors would have to be the prelude to federal approval. Then again I’m a pessimist regarding our federal and state gov’s. As far as I’m concerned, they’re all evil, motivated by greed and power, and none of us matter to them. I hope that’s way off. Not likely! It’s all a big game being played way far above our heads.

      • Kenneth R Wilson on

        Every thing in washington is a cash cow . Tickets. Only target the one who can pay.
        They tax the daylights out of it.
        And the first time we raise a stink about it .
        It will become like the famous 30 dollar car tabs we voted for.
        As longs as inslee is governor you can count on that dummicrat being stupid.
        He will not leave the small businesses alone
        To many big one riding in his pockets

  6. Arnold Dale Arends on

    As a Washington State cannabis consumer I demand much, much lower prices on quality cannabis products!! I have medical conditions I need it for and can only afford a little bit a month as I’m such low income. Allow home grows! Cannabis saves lives! Quit taxing the hell out of it!!

    • Robert on

      Just grow enough for your self any way. It’s de criminalized. One or 2 plants under one light, take it and replace every 60 days or so, you could get about 6 lbs a year, with about $150 bucks a month extra in electricity cost. Don’t be subjective. Doo it. No cop or anybody else cares, and the electric company loves it.

  7. Blair on

    The consumer would definitely have an issue if they knew the retail shops are 3x(sometimes 4x) the sales price. Small growers are being run into the ground because the state has given all purchasing power to the retail shops, not the consumers. The retail shops are a growers ONLY sales outlet and are driving wholesale prices into the ground while still maintaining, and in some cases, increasing retail prices. It’s so backwards.

    • John on

      Yes consumers probably don’t realize the shops are saying they need 4x (400%) to pay the tax. They are lying, period. They are greedy and taking advantage. In CA stores don’t even come close to that mark up. In WA the Lcb killed the tier 1 and tier 2 growers by allowing one person/company five licenses instead of allowing others to enter the retail side. So one owner/buyer of 5 stores wait out tier 1 and tier 2 farms cuz they know we have bills to pay in 30/60 days and then they offer begrudgingly to buy but at much less. The large tier 3 have much more financial backing to survive this nasty industry practice. When you try to stand up for urself cuz you know what’s going on… you are treated like you are trying to sell them bad unsellable product and you just lost five stores (accounts). It’s very unfair.

  8. Don Skakie on

    The article must be referring to medical, because non medical adults cannot grow at the current time. HB 1131 and SB 5155 now in the Legislature would change that , but Industry players are already pushing behind the scenes for language that would require purchases through the LCB system, not simply allow them.
    BTW, in the first hearing on HB 1131 on Jan 21, LCB spoke AGAINST passage of home grow. Patients already MAY purchase from licensees. Perhaps Garza and the Legislative liaison are not communicating clearly.

  9. Spam on

    You are not going hear complaints from consumers because it is about small business struggling to survive the Malwart M&A’s happening with the Tier 3’s. Consumers only care about 1. the price & 2. the THC%. (look over there while we ruin this here)
    There is definitely vertical integration in Washington state. Many of the pot shops are owned by mothers, aunts, friends of conglomerate Tier 3’s. They don’t advertise it, pot growers are the best at keeping secrets. But try selling into those stores and it’s about impossible. Look at the traceability records and see that their inventory only comes from a few certain farms. Vertical integration is alive and thriving in Washington state. gheez!!
    The only way a Tier 1 can survive is by selling direct to consumer to avert the capital-American-way-illegal relationships just to be American capitalist.
    The WALCB is entirely run like a communist state.

  10. Miguel Santiago on

    Rick Garza has never heard a consumer complain about the system set up in Washington? That cannot be true. I have complained.
    People complain about the lack of pesticide testing all of the time.
    The patient community complains about the lack of appropriate products all of the time.
    What a weird thing to say.

  11. Joe Grower on

    Would love to know what they mean by “small” I hope they don’t mean small being Tier 1 or 2. there are some T3’s that are ‘small’ I say let every Tier sell direct to the consumer if they want. Selling direct poses issues of its own that I am sure many don’t want to deal with, I sure don’t want every dime bag buyer coming to my farm. I also don’t want to deal with a POS system and all the other crap that comes along with selling it,

    WA needs to revisit its tax structure and stores need to quit the 3.5 x 4 x markups.

  12. Mary Akin on


  13. Itzel Monroy on

    I don’t honestly know what exactly there is you have to do “laws” wise but there is a huge gap between consumer and producer. And in some cases even consumer and the person handing them this “drug”. And if Washington state was really as progressive as it says it is they would atleast be open to the idea of allowing people to decide for themselves. I’m sorry but you can’t be progressive and still want to keep people in a box, if you’re really wanting to make your money out of it why not tax on those making a lot more. Like the big farms and the big companies allowed to produce so much at such a low cost that’s its running small business owners out of production. Make Washington not only a role model state in the cannabis industry but just a more realistic industry when so many other can benefit it too. I just feel like there are already so many trumps out there in this world and he’s already head of our country and Washington state was supposed to be different. That’s why there are so many states that are watching what we’re doing right now. Why not let people with actual experience in this be a part of the real conversations that are making all these regulations and “standards” happen, something the people in office do not have. I’m sorry but not everyone can be good at everything. And I’m sorry but the best weed in the world isn’t always the largest and biggest plant that’s out there in the garden.

  14. Brett Henry on

    This would stop retail stores forming cartels and demanding low prices for quality product. It is bascially blackmail, build a quality brand in i502 and watch unscrupulous retailers devalue your product. Retailers expect the producer/processor to always take the hit while they make their 3-4X markup.

    It costs about $1/g to grow quality weed, have it tested, package & label it in retail size packs (mainly 1g & 3.5g) and deliver across the state. We are based in Olympia and deliver weekly east to Spokane, north to Blaine, south to Vancouver and everywhere inbetween. We dont just grow weed and blast oil, we are also a transport company. Many hours, lots of miles (rain, hail, snow or shine) and wages.

    We would happlily sell direct for under $4.90/g for quality indoor weed at our front door. This is a win for the consumer, low prices are maintained and struggling P/P’s may achieve some ROI. We would be equally happy to work with our loyal retailer network who have supported us since 2015. We get to decide who stocks our products and not be in a constant race to the bottom to stay in business.

  15. Babygoats420 on

    I run a retail store in Washington state. People have extremely unrealistic ideas of how much profit retail stores take home. A lot of shops, ours included, have barely started to make back our initial investments after 2-3 years of operating. Does that sound like people are pocketing a bunch of cash? People don’t realize that we are prevented from writing off pretty much anything on our taxes. Things that every other industry can write off. Add to that tons of regulations on buildings, security, video surveillance etc. etc. etc. In addition to this nearly every business we hire for any kind of work involving our stores jacks the price way up as they are also under this bs impression that we have tons of excess cash. $1-$2 grams is insane. We currently carry $3 grams and still people come in and request cheaper products. It is an absolutely ridiculous situation that is only made worse by the overabundance of ignorance.

  16. BrokeFarmer on

    Sorry babygoats, you’ll get no sympathy or little violin strings from me. Let me break this down for you. 1) I was one of the very first I-502 P&P’s licensed in WA and have yet to make a penny of investment back after over 5 years. I have thousands of unpaid hours on top of that and have to work 60-hour weeks in a completely different industry just to keep my struggling business afloat. What’s your primary job babygoats to keep your store open? 2) Tax write-offs? Give me a break!! P&P’s have three times the expenses a Retailer might have. In Washington’s “Seed-to-Sale” system, the grower gets hit with about 85% of the costs of bringing a gram of pot to market from true labor to lab testing to packaging, nothing stores like yours have to worry about. Like you babygoats, these expenses can’t be written off in a traditional business sense by P&P’s because of federal laws.

    As for Mr. Garza, maybe the most ignorant, indifferent SOB there is in Cannabis Policy/Regulation. He has built a system on the backs of the Cannabis farmer and couldn’t care less about any of them. Do you honestly think he was serious about farmers getting to sell direct? Ha! He’s had years to enact this – it would have been done by now if his Board was at all serious. Simple lip service. For all consumers reading this, consider that for the last 3 years (and I’m sure Jim McRae of Straight Line can vouch for this), a $10 gram of weed – WA state nets about $4.30 of that $10 (highest taxed MJ in the US by far!!) while the Retailer brings in around $4. The P&P, the one stuck with the lion’s share of costs gets what’s left (about $1.70). Care to trade balance sheets babygoats?? Believe me when I tell you, WA P&P’s have been and continue to get their teeth kicked in from this terribly unfair, imbalanced and egregious system! Even the largest tier-3 operations aren’t happy about this system, but are quiet as the shearing wind continues to apply impossible pressure onto struggling farms of all sizes (and WSLCB knows of it completely!). When these market forces kick the “craft mentality” quality boutique farms out of I-502 babygoats, then maybe I’ll have a little empathy for you, as those remaining are sure to jack up prices as their eager investors await to get paid back at long last! WA lawmakers won’t even consider serious policy change until federal deregulation comes, if it ever does. The likelihood is market forces will whittle farms down to the last couple of hundred before marijuana gets rescheduled. In all, this is a really disappointing, corrupt system in my view. WSLCB will change rules on a dime for useless things – just look at their email feeds, but never ever adjust for the big policy pieces, I suspect because they don’t want to disrupt the money train they clearly are riding all the way to their newly constructed multimillion dollar building in Olympia (glad I could help with that)!

    In I-502, both P&P’s and consumers are the big losers, which is sad because in a now billion-dollar industry, there’s enough to go around for everybody to smile.

  17. Crcbx99 on

    Looking for a mmj grower I could purchase directly from in WA state. If anyone knows any please email me, I’ve been going through local dispensary’s since Ive gotten my card and going broke because of it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *