In the spring of 2016, local growers told me how collective growers make a living. Plant yield is different depending on soil amendments, solar conditions and variety. Sativa is the most commonly grown here in Plumas County. Each medical collective may harvest the yield of six plants per cardholder (client).
Sativa plants, grown outside, yield two to four pounds of “bud” in a season. Washington State studies in 2013 concluded that adult consumers smoke a joint every three days, or 3.5 ounces per year. A daily user may smoke an ounce per month. Clients give growers their “215” cards and in return receive 16-24 ounces annually for free or for a “donation” (growers cannot legally sell to their clients). This leaves 10.5 to 22.5 pounds per six plants that the grower then sells to a dispensary in California. (In 2016 there were 2,800 dispensaries in the state.) The reputation of the individual grower and the presence or absence of undesirable chemicals determines the actual price a dispensary will pay per pound. Organically grown and chemical free “bud” at wholesale brings about $1,200 per pound. Local growers refer to their product as “medicine,” and it may be, but theirs is also a lucrative business.
Medical is commercial
With eighteen 215 cards, a collective may grow 99 plants, and stand to have gross earnings between (2 pounds X 99=198 lbs. X $1,200) $237,000 and (4 pounds X 99=396 lbs. X $1,200) $475,000 each season (May-October). This is anecdotal information and not specific to all existing growers. Moreover, all growers have varied costs, which may include the following: free product to clients, hoop houses, nursery plants, growing containers, catch basins, vehicle wear and tear, gasoline, plastic pipe, electricity, water, sweat equity, and casual labor such as trimmers.