Despite Promises, Big Marijuana Holds All the Cards Two Years After Commercial Legalization

When Prop 64 was pitched to voters, leaders promised small farmers would be taken care of. Instead, two years after commercial cannabis was legalized, Big Marijuana is king.

Vice News takes a look at the broken promises to small operators — many of whom feel they were better off when there was nothing but an underground.

High taxes and fees, restrictive zoning, bureaucratic complexities, and the absence of barriers on large-scale farms have made it difficult for small businesses to compete. The result, state data shows, is a marijuana industry dominated by large corporations.

The problem is stark in Mendocino County in the heart of the Emerald Triangle, a region long synonymous with weed production.

Legalization "is just killing off the small farmer," Mendocino County supervisor Ted Williams told Vice. "The sense in this county is that Prop. 64's implementation is really favoring the corporate interests at the cost of the small family farms."

As an early advocate for marijuana reform — and one who promised small farmers would be cared for — people hoped Gov. Gavin Newsom would be one to promote meaningful change. But his performance has been more of a mixed bag. He has taken several actions that rubbed the industry the wrong way. And he hasn’t stood up for cottage industry farmers in the way many would have liked.

Read more about the rise of Big Cannabis and the broken promises of Prop 64 here