Company: Luma California
Company: Luma California
For the past 12 months, the editorial staff at Marijuana Venture has compiled a list of candidates for our third annual 40 Under 40 feature. This year, we narrowed our list down from hundreds of worthy candidates to come up with a cross-section of personalities across the U.S. and Canada, from salt-of-the-earth farmers to tech savants. All of them have unique stories, successes and ambitions and all represent the excitement and promise of the cannabis business. We feel honored to share their stories and look forward to watching them push forward in our ever-evolving industry.
Something about fear seems to inspire people to embroider red baseball hats.
In Sonoma County, California, a group of local residents has launched a vitriolic campaign to impose new regulations on cannabis cultivation sites that would effectively ban commercial operations in some locations. Donning red hats with the slogan “Save our Sonoma neighborhoods,” the anti-cannabis crowd has taken aim at local farmers during recent Board of Supervisors meetings, linking a streak of home invasions, perpetrated by three individuals working together, as indicators of what the legal and highly-regulated cannabis industry will bring to residential areas.
“I hate to say it, but they look like Trump hats,” says Alexa Wall. “They are talking about adding a 1,000-foot setback, which we — along with possibly 60% to 70% of operators — just can’t meet.”
After five years of working in California’s cannabis industry, Alexa and her husband, Curtis, thought they finally hit their big break. Instead, the young couple has been forced back into the role of legalization advocates, with their plans in jeopardy. If the red-hats succeed, the Walls and many others may be forced to move elsewhere.
“What was supposed to be an exciting time for the industry has been just the opposite,” Alexa says. “Here we are fighting to keep our operators in business.”
Alexa, who has a master’s degree in environmental management, is the acting chairman of the Sonoma County Growers Alliance and the organization’s operations director. Curtis has a business degree in entrepreneurship and innovation. He’s serving a two-year term on the county’s Cannabis Advisory Group. Along with dozens of other local activists, they’ve rallied together — wearing green shirts and hats that read “Support Local Farmers” — to oppose unfair zoning restrictions from shutting down existing businesses.
The potential setbacks haven’t deterred the Walls from building their family farm. They’ve invested more than $100,000 in Luma California, the company Curtis has dreamt of running since the couple met in 2010.
The couple has already rebuilt the company three times in order to remain compliant with California’s ever-changing regulations. It started as a small indoor grow in Petaluma before morphing into a delivery service. Now in its third iteration, the Walls have staked everything on permitting fees for their property in Penngrove.
“At our last grow we lived on site, so we didn’t have any rent,” Alexa says. “My husband and I have been taking side jobs to make ends meet. This will be the first time we’ve had a salary in any form or fashion since we started.”
Alexa says the couple is ready to continue the fight for Luma and Wine Country operators for the foreseeable future.
“Something that I’ve really taken on at SCGA is coordinating outreach with all of the other operators,” Alexa says. “It’s the red hats and green shirts right now. But what’s unfortunate is that the permits in Sonoma County have to be renewed every year, so what may work this year may be completely different next year.”