Oakland Looks To License Medical Marijuana Farms

By Christie Smith
|  Tuesday, Jul 20, 2010  |  Updated 8:00 AM PDT
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Oakland City Council members are set to vote on a measure that would create licensed factories to grow medical marijuana.

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The Oakland City Council could make history tonight. Council members are set to vote on a measure that would create licensed factories to grow medical marijuana.

If the plan is approved, the city would license four production plants that would grow, package and process cannabis for medical use in every form -- from the buds to the body lotions.

This marijuana move is being touted for a few things. First: public safety. Recently, the city laid off 80 police officers to save money and there has been a spike in fires and break ins tied to small grow operations. But the bottom line? There is money to be made in marketing medi-pot.

Winning applicants under the new plan would pay over $200,000 in permit fees and be ready to pay up to 8 percent of their gross sales to taxes.

Supporters say the plan would create jobs when the city needs it most. Opponents say there would be job loss to consider. They believe this would drive the small "mom and pop" growers out of business when they were on the forefront of the fight to provide safe access and legalize medical marijuana. They see it as the "corporatization" of pot.

Then there is the elephant in the room: The Feds. The Obama Administration's policy is to leave medical marijuana operations alone if they are in "clear and unambiguous compliance with state law."

Still, Oakland is moving ahead undaunted and on the forefront of a growing industry.

Oakland was the first city to regulate and tax dispensaries with a voter-approved initiave in 2008. The city's four retail marijuana stores raked in $28 million in sales last year.
 

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