July 21, 2010

Oakland Approves Legalized Large-Scale Marijuana Cultivation

The city of Oakland, California legalized large-scale marijuana cultivation for medical use on Tuesday.

The move aims to bring medical marijuana cultivation into the open and allow the city to profit by taxing those who grow it.  The city will issue up to four permits for "industrial" cultivation starting next year.

The resolution passed through the city council after a 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 during the debate.

Oakland already taxes medical marijuana sales, but cultivation has existed in a legal gray area.  Council members plan later action to levy new taxes on growers.

The decision made by the city is separate from California's ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use, which state citizens will vote on in November.

Polls put support for the November state legalization measure at about 50 percent of voters.  If passed, the state would be the first to broadly legalize the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.  Many jurisdictions tolerate some personal use and small sales, but none allow major scale growing, sales and recreational use.

U.S. Federal law bans marijuana use of any sort.  However, law enforcement authorities have turned a virtual blind eye to its use.

Law enforcement officers said that so far, criminals who grow cannabis in national forests or complex grow houses have dominated large-scale cultivation in the sunshine state.

Small-scale marijuana growers gave the toughest opposition at the city council meeting by claiming that the decision to allow the new 'agribusiness' will smoother them.


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