Cannabis Culture: Big Marijuana vs. Craft Cannabis

The culture of cannabis is shifting. What was once seen as a drug for lazy stoner kids or hippies hiding in the hills, cannabis is now making it to the mainstream. Celebrities, not always the expected ones, are endorsing products left and right. It’s also started to attract the eye of big businesses. But is that a good thing? What happens when “big marijuana” takes hold. Will the culture survive?

Big Business

What does “big marijuana” mean? Due to legalization happening in waves throughout the country and federal legalization still lacking, it hasn’t really happened yet. But it could go in several directions. It could follow in the footsteps of “big tobacco” and “big alcohol” or perhaps it will happen on the farming side with “big agriculture.” These industries all have big conglomerates running them, forcing the little guys to sell or get shut out. These conglomerates are keeping a well-trained eye on the cannabis industry, ready to pounce when the industry is scalable. In Canada, where bud is legal throughout the country, alcohol and tobacco companies have already made investments in the cannabis industry -- big investments. This isn’t necessarily the worst thing to happen in the cannabis world, but the repercussions could be catastrophic. These companies don’t care about the plant, the healing it offers or the culture; it's about money. They want to harvest as many plants as possible. That usually means quality goes way down and the farming methods can be less than sustainable. In some cases, they aren’t even focusing on the plant at all. They are just looking for ways to undercut competition and expand as quickly as possible. Big marijuana makes cannabis a cutthroat industry.

Keepin’ it Craft

As more and more states join the legal cannabis revolution, the US could find itself on a similar path to commodification as Canada. Right now, however, there are certain mandates that encourage the industry to stay as it has been for decades: in the hands of small, family farmers. In California, permits are limited to one acre farms. Massachusetts also favors small-scale growers for its permitting. On the flipside, however, there are ways for larger cultivators to get around this (permit stacking in California) and the state and county governments have often made the permit process so arduous and expensive it has discouraged many small producers from even applying. Ryan Stoa has studied the cannabis industry and has written extensively about big marijuana vs. craft cannabis. He believes the best path forward is using the beer industry as a model. Large-scale brewers coexist with a booming craft beer community. So too, Stoa believes, can craft cannabis live in harmony with massive grows. It will keep small farming communities thriving, won’t squash the culture and will keep the market diverse. Less expensive, poorer quality bud won’t mean the end of craft cannabis. On the contrary, it will boost it. It’s always been said that cannabis is a gateway drug. Mass-produced marijuana is a gateway to small-scale, high-quality bud.

The Path to the Most High

At Elyon, we’re all about harmonizing. But we also want to keep the focus on high-quality cannabis. We’re a small, family-run operation that thinks big. We’re slowly expanding our Sonoma County footprint but in the most conscious and sustainable way. You know our growers. You know our farms. We want to keep it that way. We’ll continue to grow, package and distribute our products so that you can get the best buds and get The Most High.