There’s a new type of farmers’ market is in town, but rather than buying fruits and vegetables, customers are buying cannabis products instead. Not only that, but cannabis products are starting to become available at traditional farmers’ markets as well (so you could buy fruits, vegetables, and pot, whatever your heart desires).
What is a farmers’ market?
The term “farmers’ market” is pretty self-explanatory, but for the sake of being thorough, let’s get into some detail on what they are and how they work. A farmers’ market is a physical retail area set up to sell produce, eggs, and other food items from farmers and producers, directly to consumers. They typically occur outdoors but can be in a large indoor space as well, consisting of booths, stands, tables, and carts for display. Aside from groceries, you can also find live plants and animals, hygiene products, handcrafted items, and sometimes prepared foods and beverages.
Different styles of farmers’ markets exist in many countries throughout the world. In some countries, they’re called green markets or open-air markets. Some are small, just a few stalls on a street corner like the one in my town, and some span several city blocks like Dane County farmers’ market in Madison, Wisconsin. Farmers’ markets focus on quality over quantity and convenience, compared to standard groceries stores, which have a permanent location, are open all year, and offer a larger variety of goods.
However, due to a growing interest in healthy eating, sustainable living, community spending, and the desire to preserve local livestock and cultivars, farmers’ markets are seeing a boom in popularity, despite their limitations compared to public markets. People are beginning to understand that value of keeping money and food products within their communities, and as such, the demand for farmers’ markets has skyrocketed over the last couple decades.
A lot of individuals and organizations are involved in the making of a successful farmers’ market including community groups, local governments, business owners, and of course, farmers. Some have strict rules of operation overseeing pricing, product quality, and vendor selection, while others are more lenient. However, the central focus of all these markets is to get fresh, locally produced items to consumers.
And what about cannabis farmers’ markets?
As the name suggests, a cannabis farmers’ market is a place where consumers can buy cannabis flower directly from farmers in a setting that is similar to a traditional farmers’ market. Although few exist, the ones that do are typically located at dispensaries. Take the event in San Francisco for instance, which take place monthly at one of two dispensaries: Moe Greens on Market Street, and Barbary Coast on Mission Street.
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The market allows farmers to showcase their new and top strains directly to consumers, and consumers in turn get to learn about different types of flower directly from the people who grew them. It’s great for customers looking for new and interesting strains, as well as for boutique farms that struggle to get their brands and products out there.
The cannabis farmer’s market in California was founded by Susan Tibbon, who partnered with owners of Barbery Coast and Moe Greens dispensaries with the goal of creating a “meet the farmers” series. Tibbon works in the cannabis industry herself, she owns a topical brand called Lovingly & Legally.
So far, this is the only type of event I have found that most closely resembles a farmer’s market. The Denver area does have something similar at JAD’s Mile High Smoke, which is Colorado’s only licensed cannabis lounge. Every other week they hold a showcasing called Taste of JAD’s, for new brands to display their products. Consumers pay a small fee to sample various products.
Can you buy weed at a regular farmers’ market?
I have seen weed booths at numerous different farmers’ markets around California already. Whether they are there legally or not, that’s the question. The answer, a resounding no, although there have been ongoing discussions about changing these laws.
A bill that made the rounds last year, AB 2691, intended to do just that in the state of California. The aim was to “bridge the gap between producers who grow less than one acre of cannabis and consumers”, as small mom-and-pop farms have seen increasing struggles since Californians voted to approve Prop 64 back in 2016.
Naturally, there would be some restrictions such as the requirement of up-to-date paperwork (licensing, permitting, etc.) from all farmers, and they would have to keep up with varying regulations in different jurisdictions. AB 2691 was gaining traction for a few months, but after numerous revisions, it died due to inactivity in November 2022, and nothing more has been mentioned about it since.
Final thoughts on cannabis farmers’ markets
Although multiple states have allowed adult use cannabis for many years now, the industry is struggling and any farmer, dispensary, or brand that isn’t already one of the big players is getting left behind. Allowing small growers more options for getting into the marketplace could help level the playing field, as well as provide a boost to the industry as a whole.
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