It was nice visiting my friend out west; we haven’t seen each other in the years since college graduation, and he is making a name for himself as a marijuana grower.
Even before cannabis was recreationally legal in his state, he was growing a few plants for personal use. He read every single book he could get his hands on and scoured the internet for tips and advice for cultivating the healthiest and strongest plants possible. Now he’s a professional grower and supplies cannabis products to a number of different dispensaries. Even though my state has legal cannabis as well, the landscape couldn’t be more different. You can’t be a simple marijuana grower, or just a marijuana dispensary. All marijuana businesses in my state must be vertically integrated to operate. That means they have to own the growing facilities, the processing and packaging, and the retail sales. That’s why we only have roughly 20 different dispensary companies even though there are hundreds of marijuana stores statewide. There is even one marijuana producer who only sells through their delivery service. You can call or create an order on their website, which features their full cannabis product menu. I hate the fact that the companies have to operate like monopolies, but it sure beats buying sketchy cannabis off the black market from people I know I couldn’t trust. The vertical integration is frustrating, but the state also requires these companies to submit their products to third-party labs for testing. At the end of the day, I know that I’m not vaporizing a contaminated product and making myself sick in the process.