THE city of Oakland, California, has legalised large-scale marijuana cultivation for medical use and will issue up to four permits for “industrial” cultivation starting next year.
The move by the San Francisco Bay Area city aims to bring medical marijuana cultivation into the open and allow the city to profit by taxing growers.
The resolution passed the city council easily after a nearly four-hour debate that pitted small-scale “garden” growers against advocates of a bigger, industrial system that would become a “Silicon Valley” of pot. “This is going to grow as an industry. And someone is going to have a high-tech producer,” council member Jean Quan said.
Oakland already taxes sales of medical marijuana, but cultivation has existed in a legal grey area. Council members plan to levy taxes on growers. The city’s decision is separate from a statewide ballot initiative to legalise marijuana for adult recreational use which Californians will vote on in November.
Polls put support for the November state legalisation measure at about 50% of voters, and if it passed, the state would be the first to broadly legalise its use.
Many jurisdictions tolerate some personal use and small sales, but none allow major-scale growing, sales and recreational use.
US Federal law bans marijuana use of any sort but authorities have turned a virtual blind eye to medical marijuana. Large-scale cultivation in California has been dominated by criminals who grow marijuana in national forests or grow houses, police say.
The toughest opposition at the Tuesday council meeting came from small-scale marijuana growers who feel they will be squeezed out of the market by the new “agribusiness”.
Opponents to marijuana use were silent.
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