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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Oakland Permits Large Marijuana Farms

A computer image of a marijuana growing operation envisioned by Gropech, one of the companies interested in running a city-licensed marijuana plantation in Oakland, Calif. (Gropech/Associated Press)

Medical marijuana in California continues to proceed without any reserve. In the shadow of possible legalization we are seeing people make big moves to try and corner the market on marijuana growing. The typical grower in California produces small amounts of marijuana that gets distributed to the dispensaries. Recent activities in Oakland are giving people a glimpse at which direction the marijuana movement is heading as people prepare for legalization in November despite the apparent negative implications that come with it. There is talk of creating super grows that could produce more marijuana than any other single location in California history.

Last week in Oakland, Calif., city council voted to license four large growing and packaging facilities. Since the beginning Oakland has been on the front lines of medical marijuana and last year, the city's legal small growers produced "6,000 pounds of marijuana worth $28 million and requiring approximately 45,000 square feet of space to grow," according to the New York Times. That may seem like a lot of marijuana, and it is, however the new super grow sites are expected to produce 70,000 pounds a year - now multiply that by four! Marijuana is rapidly becoming a legal big business similar to the tobacco industry, they will have the ability to market to a number of different demographics including teenagers and will always be able to supply the demand.

There are number of arguments supporting the medical benefits of marijuana, but, as local and state governments saw the potential for serious tax revenue the idea that marijuana could be a taxed legal drug for all people of age started to make more sense. It is no longer about what is good for the people. Now it is all about the money as is made clear by the proposed super grows months before the November vote. Marijuana was classified as a medicine for a reason, making marijuana completely legal undermines the medical marijuana program that worked successfully for 14 years.

Everything is happening very quickly, which usually results in a poor outcome with something as serious as legalizing a drug that has been illegal for decades. If something isn't broken it is usually best not to try and fix it.

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