Today’s Headlines: Taxes and regulations are killing small legal weed farms California vowed to help

Hello, it’s Thursday, Dec. 29, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

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Taxes and regulations are killing the small legal weed farms California vowed to help

In place of handcuffs and prison sentences to deter cannabis cultivation, California has established a vast system of taxes, fees and regulations to control it. The taxes are steeper and the rules more onerous than those in other agricultural sectors. Small California cannabis farmers say they are increasingly impossible to comply with given the glut of weed on the market and the plummeting price per pound of wholesale pot.

“Are all the small farmers destined to fail? That’s our biggest fear,” a farmer said one recent morning. “It’s the War on Drugs Part II.”

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California taxes, regulations killing small legal weed farms

When Johnny Casali was a teenager growing weed illegally in the mountains of Northern California, there was always the risk the government would ruin everything — that his plants would be discovered and ripped up, or that he would be discovered and locked up.

In the 1990s, dozens of federal agents raided his family’s Humboldt County farm, and Casali spent eight years in federal prison.

Today, weed is legal in the state and Casali grows it openly on his family farm. Law enforcement helicopters don’t fly over as often, and there’s not much risk of another raid.

Still, the government threatens his livelihood, Casali said.

A cannabis farmer talks with state inspectors.

Johnny Casali, second from left, and partner Rose Moberly, second from right, talk with inspectors from the California Department of Cannabis Control inside a storage room at Casali’s Huckleberry Hill Farms in November.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

In place of handcuffs

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