Flow Kana Supports Small Cannabis Farmers in the Regulated Market

France24 caught up with Michael Steinmetz, CEO of Flow Kana, to understand the small farmer’s role in California’s cannabis market.

Since the legalization of recreational cannabis in January, new laws have impacted farmers in big ways. An increase in environmental, traceability and sanitation rules has made it harder for farmers to obtain licenses and continue farming practices.

The Emerald Triangle (Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties), north of San Francisco, is the top cannabis growing region in the U.S. Many farmers in the area previously operated thriving farms, harvesting crops for sale of medical marijuana. However, due to the legalization of recreational use, farming is now not allowed without a license. Small farmers have struggled as compliance and license fees have proven to be expensive.

Certain versions of cannabis, like oils which treat specific diseases, are not yet publicly available. In the past, direct relationships were built between farmers and communities in need of medical marijuana. People could obtain this type of cannabis from farmers through charities. Today, the new law prohibits buying from marijuana farmers, putting farmers and neighboring communities at a loss. One consumer said, “the generalized market is not ready to treat real and serious diseases yet.”

A solution for small farmers is to regroup into cooperatives. Steinmetz explained how Flow Kana is helping these farmers thrive with their Flow Cannabis Institute. The institute is an 80-acre facility with 100,000 square feet of industrial space in dark, dry and cool insulated buildings. Marijuana harvested by local farmers is sent to the facility, prepared, and shipped to dispensaries in California. Steinmetz explained that the institute receives products from farmers and finds the best use for cannabis in the market, all while promoting the community. In return, Flow Kana receives a percentage of the profit derived from these sales.

Cyril Guthridge is a small farmer who shared that the co-ops have also helped him obtain a license. Guthridge said, “They’re really helping us achieve this process a lot smoother…they  take care of the trimming, the processing, the distribution, and the sales, so really I can just focus on growing.”

The legalization of cannabis has changed the business of growing marijuana by making it difficult for small farmers to prosper. Cooperatives like Flow Kana allow farmers to succeed and local communities to survive.

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