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Cannabis values decline over 50%, Monterey County Crop Report shows

By Ariana Jaso

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    SALINAS, California (KSBW) — The County of Monterey Crop & Livestock Report was released on Tuesday, which outlines the value of the industry as a whole and by commodity for the year of 2022. It showed the values of many crops thriving, except cannabis.

The report says that cannabis values saw a 54% decline from 2021 to 2022.

Walter Huff, who is an investor and business partner in the cannabis growing industry, said it all began years ago.

“California issued anybody that wanted a permit because they wanted taxes, they let everybody in it. Had they been in here and looked at it a little bit closer, they wouldn’t have been as congenial as they were. Because of that tremendous amount of production. It just collapsed,” said Huff.

Huff said that regulation is also to blame and that cannabis growers are treated differently.

“Every time that we make a step. There’s a regulation that doesn’t exist for the lettuce people, that doesn’t exist for that,” he said.

Along with hurdles of regulation, growers say they face crushing taxes and fees. Something that retailers also blame.

Mike Bitar, CEO of Grupoflor said, “43% to 46% of all fees on cannabis is actually taxation. And what this does, it impedes us in the retail stores because now we’re competing against the black market.”

Bitar emphasizes that the black market, people selling illegally, is the real competition.

“Taxation is a big issue and $0.46 out of every dollar. How can you compete when somebody else across the street selling it illegally is not paying any of those fees. This industry provided over 3,000 jobs just a few years ago at the peak. Today, it’s less than a thousand,” Bitar said.

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