The Oakland City Council will vote today on a proposal to set up four
marijuana factory farms in the Bay Area. If approved, the measure would
allow the first such farms in modern U.S. history. Since California
legalized the growing of marijuana for medical usage, a small but highly
profitable industry of pot growers has sprung up in the state. It was
probably inevitable that pot farms would eventually become big business,
but should Oakland approve the factory farms? And what happens if they
- How Would-Be Factory Farmer Wooed Oakland The L.A.
Times' John Hoeffel reports, "One
Bay Area businessman has already made it clear that he intends to apply
for a cultivation permit. Jeff Wilcox, who owned a successful
construction firm and has already incorporated as AgraMed, hopes to
convert his empty industrial buildings near Interstate 880 into an
enormous production facility. He plans to manufacture growing equipment,
bake marijuana edibles in a 10,000-square-foot kitchen and use two
football fields of space to grow about 58 pounds of marijuana every day,
many times the amount now sold in Oakland. What caught the City
Council's attention was Wilcox's projection that he could hire 371
employees and pay at least $1.5 million a year in taxes. Oakland faces
severe budget deficits and has already let go of 80 police officers."
- Rise of The 'Wal-Marting of Weed' The Associated Press reports,
"After weathering the fear of federal prosecution and competition from
drug cartels, California's medical marijuana growers see a new threat to
their tenuous existence: the 'Wal-Marting' of weed. ... The move, and
fledgling efforts in other California cities to sanction cannabis
cultivation for the first time, has some marijuana advocates worried
that regulations intended to bring order to the outlaw industry and new
revenues to cash-strapped local governments could drive small 'mom and
pop' growers out of business. They complain that industrial-scale
gardens would harm the environment, reduce quality and leave consumers
with fewer strains from which to choose."
- A Familiar and Inevitable Pattern
of Business Outside the Beltway's James Joyner says of the small
farmers' protects, "While amusing because of the reputation of this
particular crop and its enthusiasts, it is always thus. Despite the
conception in the popular culture that government regulation springs
from consumer pressure over the screaming protests of industry, the fact
of the matter is that it almost always is demanded by big players in
the industry in an effort to thwart competition."
- Why Cities Will Embrace Pot Factory Farms The Guardian's Ewan MacAskill writes, "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. ... 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."
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