Why comply? Farmer motivations and barriers in cannabis agriculture
Journal of Rural Studies
Bodwitch, H., Polson , M., Biber, E., Hickey, G. M., Butsic, V.
Photo of cannabis plants in an indoor farm greenhouse being cut by an inspector due to non-compliance with regulation.
Despite legalization, illicit cannabis production continues in California. Surveys reveal that small farmers face outsized burdens to compliance.
In California, illicit cannabis production continues despite recent legalization. In this study, use anonymous surveys of California's cannabis farmers to ask, “Why?” About one third of respondents reported that they never applied for a license. Many non-applicants were small cultivators with diversified livelihood strategies. They attributed non-compliance to not only financial barriers, but also administrative and psychological ones. Socio-normative factors, including pressure from neighbors and perspectives on environmental regulations, were not found to motivate non-compliance. We recommend policy measures to mitigate the administrative burdens of compliance, particularly for small farmers and the health of rural economies.