Salinas Valley From Salad Bowl to Weed Basket of America

Modified on January 31, 2021
Originally published on April 23, 2017

California greenhouses to grow marijuana

Salinas Valley to grow weed along wine grapes and strawberries

Salinas Valley has been putting lettuce on American tables for years; but all this may soon change. Cannabis in California is set to go mainstream in a big way. Marijuana businessmen are purchasing existing greenhouses and are now planting weed among the rows of wine grapes and strawberries. Harborside Farms, spread over 47 acres, has many greenhouses that give off the distinct aroma of cannabis plants. Warehouses on the property process the leaves for the next stage of the operation. By next year, this farm could become one of the largest legal marijuana farms in the world.

Harborside is a shining beacon showing the path to legalization of marijuana, the forces backing legal marijuana opine that it is only a matter of time before pot gets the same status as alcohol. DeAngelo of Harborside is upbeat about weed’s prospect in California. He feels that the state will soon be producing half of America’s legal weed crop.

The impetus to industrial scale marijuana farming is happening at the time when the new federal administration is mulling a stricter approach to drug trafficking. It has included marijuana trafficking as one of the issues it intends to target. The government has its task cut out. Marijuana is legal in 30 states for recreational and medicinal purposes. There is a federal ban on the legal sale of weed grown in California to other states. This does not really prevent many tons of marijuana ending up with users all over America.

The legal sales of cannabis in America account for $7 billion a year, whereas Americans consume around $50 billion worth of pot every year. Cannabis cultivation Colorado and other states is carried out legally and the farmers are subject to taxes and regulations. However, the Trump administration has adopted a belligerent attitude and one does not really know if a crackdown on cannabis will really happen. As of now, the DEA is all caught up in trying to control the epidemic of opioid drugs. But not all watchers appear upbeat about the developments in Salinas Valley. Some feel that this large-scale farming with conveyor belts and imported greenhouses will lead to an oversupply and a consequent fall in prices. As it is, wholesale prices have been sliding, and if it continues, then soon retail prices too may get affected. Cottage growers are alarmed at the entry of big businesses in this field.

California cannabis farms

They fear that the industrialization of the process may deprive them of their market. Cannabis farms in California are rarely more than 5000 sq ft. and all of a sudden these small farmers are now going to have to compete with a farm in Salinas Valley that covers nearly 50 acres and can sustain more than 100,000 plants.

The farm may run into some difficulties if regulations limiting the size of weed farms determine the maximum farm size to be smaller than the Salinas Valley Farm. Recreational marijuana is legal in the state, and right now, the laws are not yet crystallized. No one really knows where this farm will head, but executives at Harborside are upbeat about their prospects.
Salinas Valley is located in Monterey County where cannabis growers are taking an increasingly open approach and coming clear on all the facts related to their business. Cannabis farmers are taxed at $15/square foot for cannabis cultivation. There are 40 cannabis farms in the county, and more than 30 applications for a farming license are still pending.

Such is the interest in cannabis farming over here that farmers are receiving unsolicited offers for their farms; one farmer, Gerald Voge has turned down $6 million for his 20-acre farm where he grows flowers. Weed farmers purchased a nearby 10-acre nursery for nearly $4 million. This enthusiasm for cannabis may likely claim a few businesses over time, not unlike the dotcom bubble. Consolidation is inevitable, and the weaker players will fall by the wayside.

Tags: Cannabis industry

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