Oakland Rewrites Pot Farm Plans
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Oakland Rewrites Pot Farm Plans
Posted by CN Staff on January 11, 2011 at 06:33:58 PT
By Zusha Elinson, Bay Citizen Reporter
Source: Bay Citizen
California -- Oakland’s new pot farm plans would scale back the size of the growing operations and tie them more directly to medical marijuana dispensaries, according to a draft obtained by The Bay Citizen.Written up by City Council member Desley Brooks, the changes are meant to assuage legal concerns over the original plan, which would have allowed for four huge pot farms capable of producing mountains of marijuana.
The city received warnings from both the U.S. Department of Justice and the Alameda County District Attorney that the bold plans would violate state and federal law. A letter from District Attorney Nancy O’Malley went as far as to say the plans could land Oakland city officials in jail. The mounting skepticism from law enforcement caused the City Council to put the plans on ice until February.Berkeley is also responding to the warnings by slowing its plans to permit six 30,000-square-foot growing operations in the warehouse district there, Berkleyside reports. Brooks’ draft would allow Oakland’s medical marijuana dispensaries to cultivate pot for their members. The council member said each growing operation would probably be limited to around 50,000 square feet.The changes, she said, are meant to address the potential legal problems. The facilities' unlimited size had raised concerns that some of the pot would be sold for non-medical purposes. And the fact that the farms would be standalone businesses also appeared to run afoul of medical marijuana law, which calls for marijuana to be grown, bought and sold by collectives of patients and caregivers.Left out of the amendments is what will become of the high tax the city had hoped to reap from the growing operations, including a $211,000 permit fee and a 5 percent tax on marijuana grown in the facilities. Oakland already gets taxes from dispensaries — this year that figure will be around $1.5 million, Oakland finance officials told The Bay Citizen last month.Larry Reid, who co-authored the original legislation with Rebecca Kaplan, said the council has yet to talk about whether or not it will proceed with the tax, which it had hoped would bring the city millions each year. An aide for Kaplan said the lawmaker was on board with the changes but was waiting to hear what the city's lawyers have to say before moving ahead.“One of the biggest things that they're waiting on is feedback from the lawyers,” said Jason Overman, a spokesman for Kaplan. “That's going to be a very important component.”A spokesman for Oakland City Attorney John Russo, who’d sounded the alarm about the feds' displeasure with the plans, didn’t return a call seeking commentJeff Wilcox, who had plans for a large cultivation operation in Oakland, called the changes a “step forward and a step back.”One of the biggest proponents for the new law, Wilcox had planned to build a 7.4-acre complex that could produce over 21,000 pounds of marijuana a year. Under the new changes, he would have to get a dispensary permit to be able to grow.“I’m committed to this,” he said. “I’m going to see this through.”Zusha Elinson Bay Citizen reporter covering environment, land use and transportation. My reporting has led me all over the Bay from the Oakland Post in Oakland, to the Marinscope in Sausalito, and most recently to the Recorder. Source: Bay Citizen, The (CA: Web)Author: Zusha Elinson, Bay Citizen ReporterPublished: January 10, 2011Copyright: 2011 The Bay CitizenContact: letters baycitizen.orgWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #1 posted by Paul Pot on January 11, 2011 at 22:27:56 PT:
More growers needed!
I don't like the idea of few pot wall marts either. There should be hundreds of small scale growers all looking after their own quality strains and the fees and licences should be minimal in cost, like $50 at most. Everyone should be allowed to start their own business without the interference of these stifling licences.And I do like the ideas of growers having more contact with the dispensaries. There should be a lot of information going between dispensaries and growers and healers and patients. This is an opportunity to collate scientifically valid statistical data on strains and their benefits and otherwise to patients.Legalise completely and let medical dispensaries deal with real marijuana patients and then pot bars can open up for the rest of us. Then patients can be assured that their dispensary really has their interests at heart.
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