Oakland Happy to be First City to Welcome Industrial Pot

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 19: Various types of marijuana are on display at Private Organic Therapy (P.O.T.), a non-profit co-operative medical marijuana dispensary, on October 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Attorney General Eric Holder announced new guidelines today for federal prosecutors in states where the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is allowed under state law. Federal prosecutors will no longer trump the state with raids on the southern California dispensaries as they had been doing, but Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley recently began a crackdown campaign that will include raids against the facilities. Cooley maintains that virtually all marijuana dispensaries are in violation of the law because they profit from their product. The city of LA has been slow to come to agreement on how to regulate its 800 to 1,000 dispensaries. Californians voted to allow sick people with referrals from doctors to consume cannabis with the passage of state ballot Proposition 215 in 1996 and a total of 14 states now allow the medicinal use of marijuana. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

    The City Council gave final approval Tuesday to a plan that makes Oakland the first city in the country to authorize large-scale industrial pot cultivation.
         
    The city intends to license four production plants where marijuana would be grown, packaged and processed for medical use.

    Under the plan, which would take effect in January, license recipients would be heavily taxed and regulated. They would have to pay the city $211,000 in annual permit fees, carry $2 million in liability insurance and be prepared to devote up to 8 percent of gross sales to taxes.

    The measure also would require bidders to meet certain labor, environmental and product safety standards.

    However, there would be no size restrictions on the facilities.
         
    Two of the eight City Council members abstained from the vote.

    Supporters of the measure say it will create jobs and bring in much-needed revenue to Oakland. They also say it will give the city an advantage if California voters approve the legalization of recreational marijuana in November.

    Opponents argue the urban pot farms would put small medical marijuana growers out of business.

    Permits would not be limited to Oakland-based businesses. Councilwoman Desley Brooks said she hoped local business owners and minorities would be encouraged to apply.