Source: The Guardian
20 July 2010
California could take another step towards confirming itself as a rival to Amsterdam today when Oakland city council votes on setting up and licensing four major marijuana factories.
Marijuana would be mass-produced, packaged and distributed for sale from the four centres. As well as cannabis for medical purposes, the factories would make items such as body oil and baked goods.
The cash-strapped council is keen to approve the plan in order to generate cash through permit fees and taxes. The plan was agreed in principle at a council meeting last week.
One of the council members backing the plan, Rebecca Kaplan, told National Public Radio: “Creating a regular, responsible, regulated permitting system to enable the creation and regulation of these industrial facilities is an important step in terms of public safety, providing jobs and revenue.”
If Oakland goes ahead, it will be the first place in the US to license such premises.
California currently allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes but in November it is to hold a ballot on a proposal to make it legal for recreational use.
Existing small growers are protesting against the Oakland plan, describing it as creating the equivalent of McDonalds or Wal-Mart and threatening to put them out of work.
One of the 400 small growers supplying Oakland dispensaries , Dan Scully, told Associated Press: “Nobody wants to see the McDonalds-isation of cannabis. I would compare it to how a small business feels about shutting down its business and going to work at Wal-Mart. Who would be attracted to that?”
The small growers supply four dispensaries in Oakland, of which the biggest is the Harborside health centre. They argue that the drug’s industrialisation will reduce the number of varieties on offer to customers.
But Kaplan said the premises of small growers could be a fire hazard, citing fire brigade reports about the danger of the many high-powered lamps used indoors to help cannabis grow.
One of the companies planning to bid for a permit if the city council gives the plan the go-ahead is iGrow, a warehouse that supplies information and equipment for growing cannabis, but not the plant itself.
Oakland, like other cities throughout California, is suffering severe debt problems in spite of budget cuts and redundancies.
It voted last year to tax marijuana dispensaries, which is estimated to bring in about $1.5m (£980,0000) this year. Tax from the four marijuana factories is estimated to be much more.Republish