There is no official tally yet for this year’s Sonoma County outdoor cannabis crop, which covers roughly 20 acres, according to county data. County Agricultural Commissioner Tony Linegar said 16 crop-loss inspections found several cultivation sites experienced a total loss, mostly because of the mold brought by early October rainfall. His department reports their findings to the county tax collection department, which then adjusts the tax requirement based on the loss.
“It was really an ideal season for a lot of crops,” Linegar said. “The fly in the ointment was the early rain, particularly for cannabis.”
The major obstacle for cannabis cultivation in Sonoma County is not weather. It’s regulation.
Terry Garrett, a managing member of the Sonoma County GoLocal cooperative, estimated the value of the local cannabis harvest has dropped by more than three-quarters due to local requirements that banned cultivation in certain areas and required steep upfront payouts to get permits to grow cannabis.
Garrett, who also serves on the Sonoma County Economic Development Board and the county’s cannabis task force, teamed with Sonoma State University economics professor Robert Eyler to develop an economic impact report for the local cannabis industry. Garrett said they expect to release a report in the next several weeks.
Garrett said their estimates put the value of the 2018 overall county cannabis harvest at about $230 million based on state licensing data and their industry standards for yield, and valued it at about $900 per pound. That’s down from between $1.5 billion to $3 billion annual value they calculated previously through interviews and surveys with industry experts.
Garrett said some dispensaries have reported only about 10 percent of the cannabis flowers currently on the shelves were grown in Sonoma County — compared with about 90 percent in previous years.