Ramon Garcia, who runs an Oakland-based cannabis distribution and delivery company called Padre Mu, grew up surrounded by cannabis. A second-generation cultivator, he’s been in the volatile business for decades.
“I've been doing this in my family since I was 6, 7 years old, and only now can really talk about it,” he said, referring to the recently legalized status of his business. “As a cultivator, you have to adapt. You might have mold. You might have bugs. You might have a fire.”
Now, the industry has been forced to adapt to a global pandemic. Long-standing federal rules and drained state coffers are dealing a major blow to California’s legal cannabis industry. Who will help, and how the industry will be transformed, is increasingly unclear.
COVID-19 and Cannabis
When Gov. Gavin Newsom in March ordered the state to shelter in place, some dispensaries saw sales spike as customers flocked to them to stock up. Legal cannabis producers and distributors were ultimately classified as essential businesses, and Garcia said the industry scrambled to figure out how to stay open under new health and safety guidelines. But given the confusion and uncertainty of the moment, dispensaries began ordering much less product from Garcia's company, and in the last few months, he’s lost a significant amount of income just trying to keep his business open.