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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

California mega cannabis plant eyes federal weed legalization

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The company behind the massive California cannabis plant hopes that federal legalization of the substance will allow it to expand the distribution of joints, oils and foodstuffs beyond the borders of the most populous US state.

California legalized recreational cannabis in 2016, but it’s still on the federal list of controlled substances. The US House of Representatives passed a bill on April 1 to end the federal ban on marijuana, although the Senate is unlikely to approve the measure.

Joshua Crane, vice president of operations for cannabis operator 4Front, said the 170,000-square-foot (15,793 sq m) manufacturing and processing space outside Los Angeles has the potential to supply the US West Coast with hemp products, if restrictions are lifted. “This facility is designed to really be future-proof for us in terms of being able to serve not just the entire California market, but once we have the ability to move and sell cannabis across state lines, so we can feed the country’s West Coast.”

Crane said the plant, which opened in November 2021, is operating at 20-25% of capacity. “As we see the natural increase in the industry, that is likely to fill an additional demand curve as we go into federal rationing,” he added. “So we will continue to increase production more and more from this building as the state and hopefully that will require this aspect of the country.”

The highly automated facility is the largest in California, Crane said. It manufactures in-house and partner brands, including oils, dyes, and many types of candy. Edible items are the most popular, Crane said, and demand has been on the rise since the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020.

“It was fairly difficult to keep up with the additional demand in terms of adequate manufacturing for these new customers. There was a massive thrust from alcohol and other vices to cannabis.” In March 2020, as the lockdowns went into effect, sales of recreational cannabis in major US markets were up nearly 50% from the previous year, according to cannabis selling point and data platform Flowhub.

With a machine that can roll 2,000 joints an hour and a kitchen capable of producing 400,000 candy bars in a single shift, the factory in Commerce, California, is ready to keep ordering.

(This story has not been edited by the staff and is automatically generated from a shared feed.)

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