It shocked some cannabis industry watchers last year when Santa Barbara County developed front-runner status among California’s 58 counties by accruing the most marijuana cultivation permits.
Humboldt County – the centerpiece of the famed Emerald Triangle to the north – finished second.
At the end of 2018, Santa Barbara – in Southern California – had 1,917 active, albeit temporary, growing permits, according to data from the state Department of Food and Agriculture.
That’s compared with Humboldt’s 1,371 permits. The Emerald Triangle’s other two counties – Mendocino and Trinity – issued 691 and 242 licenses, respectively.
And even though serious regional competition may not yet be a factor in the market, it’s almost sure to become one, as more cultivators begin harvesting on a regular basis and feeding more cannabis into the state’s legal market.Although growers in both Santa Barbara County and the Emerald Triangle say they’re not focused on regional competition, the future of California’s legal MJ supply chain could depend heavily on how both areas develop through 2019 and beyond.
License tally not the full story
It’s important to note the number of licenses don’t necessarily tell the full story for gauging which regions will emerge as the epicenter of cannabis production in California.
The reality is those licenses have yet to prove their long-term worth. Many might actually end up not being approved as annual permits, a process that will play out through 2019.
And because not all licensees are yet using the state’s track-and-trace system, Metrc, it’s impossible to tell how much of California’s legal cannabis is coming from which region, aside from educated guesses.
“It’s a crystal ball question,” said Joe Gasbarri, CFO of Optimal Growth, a California cannabis consultancy that also controls a small cultivation operation in Mendocino County.
Gasbarri said a host of factors likely will make both regions serious contenders for the cannabis-growing crown of California.
From a high level, the Emerald Triangle has better marijuana know-how and favorable climates for growing quality cannabis, while Santa Barbara is busy setting up large-scale commercial operations that will play to lower production costs.
To Read The Rest Of This Article By John Schroyer on Marijuana Business Daily
Published: January 11, 2019
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News