A crackdown by federal prosecutors is casting a long shadow over the state’s marijuana industry, but there is one bright spot, at least for some Northern California growers willing to risk prison time:
Wholesale prices appear to be on the rise.
After slumping, prices for a pound of high-grade, outdoor-grown marijuana are stabilizing and in some areas are up between 20 percent and 40 percent, according to interviews with growers, law enforcement agents and analysts.
“It’s been a downward thrust since 1996, but this year, prices have been up,” said Kym Kemp, a Humboldt-based blogger.
In recent years, California’s medical marijuana industry attracted new players harvesting increasingly large amounts of pot – for storefront dispensaries and the black market. Some longtime operators responded by also “growing big.”
Surging production pushed down prices for some strains to less than $1,000 per pound. This led more growers to illegally ship their pot out of state, where they can double or triple their profits.
This year, production dropped in part because of rainy weather and a “bumper crop of mold,” said medical marijuana grower and activist Charley Custer.
Stepped-up enforcement by local and federal law officers has also led some growers to reduce plant counts.