The Marijuana Industry Could Help Save Family Farms

The cannabis industry could play a big role in revitalizing rural areas of the country, providing farmers a chance to create their own niche craft weed product in a marijuana industry that is growing worldwide, according to a recent book.

The book – “Craft Weed” by Ryan Stoa – takes a detailed look at possible futures for the marijuana industry. Like other industries, including beer and wine, consumers might have choices between Big Marijuana made by larger companies and craft weed, according to Stoa.

Stoa believes there’s room at the table for both big and small marijuana businesses, but family-owned farms need support. His book, first published in late 2018, is getting renewed attention as the marijuana industry expands.

“A sustainable, local, and artisanal farming model is not an inevitable future for the marijuana industry,” according to a news release about the book. But the new book “makes clear that marijuana legalization has the potential to revitalize rural communities and the American family farm.”

Built on the Beer and Wine Model

Stoa is Associate Professor at Concordia University School of Law in Boise, Idaho. He makes it clear he believes craft weed should occupy a central place in the burgeoning marijuana industry.

He interviewed farmers, politicians and business leaders for the book. He also provided a history of marijuana, including the cultural, legal and biological events that have shaped the industry.

Rather than resulting in mass-produced weed from corporations flooding the market, Stoa writes that cannabis can “stay true to its root in family farming.” Getting there requires support for the small farms that produce craft weed.

For example, Stoa suggests applying a Marijuana Appellation system modeled after the one used in the wine industry. The system would provide certified designation of origin to local crops.

That creates a situation where there is room for the Anheuser-Busch of marijuana as well as family-run farms selling craft weed.

Big Marijuana Doesn’t Have to be Inevitable

In an interview with Vox, Stoa spoke about how big business will eventually move into any industry that benefits from economies of scale. For cannabis, this could result in consolidation and “10,000-acre farms growing generic and low-quality cannabis.”

Stoa said there should be a “healthy dose of concern” about this possibility, which he said most people believe is inevitable. He pointed to three main problems for cannabis consumers if this happens.

  • Lower quality, something that typically happens with any mass-produced item
  • The possible use of more pesticides and chemicals on gigantic cannabis farms, a concern of many cannabis users
  • Less choice for consumers

Stoa said he wrote the book to show that none of this is inevitable. By providing economic protections that support farms that produce craft weed, politicians can help get money invested back into rural areas of the country.

Stoa said, “There’s really no reason for elected officials not to want to protect those rural economies and in other areas promote rural development with the potential for cannabis.”

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