Economics/Class Relations

How falling pot prices killed a 3rd generation family farm in California

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Brandon Wheeler has grown pot professionally for 20 years. His parents grew pot before him, and so did his grandparents. Despite these deep roots in the industry, he still felt a weight lift when he pulled his last pot plants out of the ground this July and shut down his legal weed farm in Mendocino County. He was happy to be leaving the family business.

“It was sad and depressing, but it was also a relief because [running a pot farm] just had taken a serious toll on my mental and physical health, and the same with my family,” Wheeler recently told SFGATE. “So it was like, why are we putting ourselves through this? It’s not worth it anymore.”

Wheeler’s story is not unique. Pot farms across the state are shutting down as wholesale cannabis prices have crashed by as much as 95% since California voters legalized weed in 2016, according to SFGATE interviews with over a dozen California cannabis farmers, who could get as much as $2,000 for a pound of pot in 2016. Today, they’re lucky to get $400 — and some pot is selling for as little as $100 a pound.

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