Cali Cannabis Industry Officials Claim Cannabis Farmers at Elevated Risk of Hardship-related Suicide
Suicide isn’t something that’s typically synonymous with marijuana farming. But in California, hardships have farmers hitting their breaking points.
Marijuana Business Daily reported one story about David Drips, the co-owner of Petaluma Hill Farms, who felt there was no end in sight when he was nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in debt that resulted from the seemingly endless costs associated with his operation.
Drips operated a small, 6,200-square-foot cultivation area that was having trouble covering the bills, let alone his wife and two kids. Between government inspections, zoning hearings, attorneys’ fees, and expert reviews, the stress of the situation were overwhelming.
“I have a pretty good life insurance policy, and if I killed myself, they’d only award 85% of the value. But between that and the Social Security check, at least my son wouldn’t be going hungry anymore. And his mom wouldn’t be living at the poverty level,” Drips recalled his thought process.
“After dinner, I picked up the gun and left the house. And I sat in the car and recorded a goodbye story to my son.”
Upon making the video, he thought of his son’s face. This pushed Drips to shift the gun just as it fired. However, the bullet grazed the hair off of the side of his cheek.
Drips survived the ordeal, and he has managed to continue his operations at Petaluma Hill Farms, turning a profit in 2020. However, he’s not the only cannabusiness operator who has felt the overwhelming stress of the struggle resulting from:
- High barriers to entry for legacy operations,
- Elevated tax rates making it challenging to turn a profit,
- Black market cannabis taking customers away,
- Obtaining the necessary licenses and permits to start operations
While there have not been any independently confirmed marijuana business owner suicides, some sources claim that there have been at least five over the last year. However, these sources have not identified the incidents to maintain privacy for the families.
Jackie McGowan, a California marijuana industry consultant, claims that the suicides are one of the reasons she’s running against Governor Gavin Newsom to become Cali’s next governor.
“I do believe this is a crisis. Small businesses and large businesses alike are suffering … to the point where they don’t see any way out,” McGowan has said.
McGowan would like to repeal the state cultivation tax and reclassify marijuana as an agricultural crop. She believes that this has the potential to offer small marijuana business operators the relief they need.