As California scrambles to regulate its recreational weed industry after voting to legalize it last year, growers have been ramping up production to cash in on the burgeoning market. But on Wednesday, the head of the state’s growers’ association warned that the surge has spiraled out of control, leaving the state with eight times as much pot as it’s capable of consuming, the Los Angeles Timesreports.
Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers’ Association, shared this estimate at a panel this week that included a few officials tasked with regulating California’s new recreational weed market, but it might be a little lofty. Conservative guesses peg that number at about three times the state’s consumption capability, according to the New York Times. It’s tough to tell just how much pot is being grown in the state as an increasing number of industrial-sized farms take root.
Still, with new state regulations coming down the pipeline, growers won’t have a legal way to get rid of all that excess bud. As part of the new regulations, California will officially ban exporting the drug as of January 1, 2018—the first day residents can legally purchase recreational weed. According to Allen that’ll force producers to cut down the size of their crops dramatically.
“We are producing too much,” Allen said, according to the LA Times. “[Growers] are going to have to scale back. We are on a painful downsizing curve.”
Under federal law, it’s already illegal for California growers to export weed (even to places that really need it, like Nevada), but the new regulations set the restriction in stone on a state level. Still, black-market growers have been illegally exporting their product for years—and Allen worries the current surplus will drive more folks underground. Additionally, with a glut of product in California’s market, prices for pot will likely take a dive.
“For right now, our goal is to get folks into the regulated market, as many as possible,” Lori Ajax, who heads the state’s Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, told the LA Times. “[But] there are some people who will never come into the regulated market.”
The state’s suppliers will have to get creative to figure out what to do with all that extra bud. As International Business Times points out, weed and its byproducts are good for everything from making jewelry to feeding birds—and, if worse comes to worst, growers could always just give it away in exchange for a city cleanup.