Two members of the Oakland City Council are planning to propose legislation, possibly this month, that would allow and regulate the commercial cultivation of medical marijuana.
Council members Larry Reid and Rebecca Kaplan said they hope the rules will limit the public hazards sometimes associated with large-scale illegal marijuana growing operations, reports Kelly Rayburn of The Oakland Tribune.
Under their plan, Oakland, California would allow a small number of commercial marijuana cultivators, regulate them carefully, collect taxes on the revenue, and, Reid and Kaplan hope, keep neighborhoods safer.
|Larry Reid, Oakland City Council: “Move it out of residential neighborhoods and into industrial neighborhoods where it’s done right”|
”There are a lot of fires that are started by people out there trying to put their systems in place,” Reid said. “Hopefully, issuing these three or four permits will help move it out of residential neighborhoods and into industrial neighborhoods where it’s done right.”
The city would issuer permits to no more than four cultivation operations, while expanding the number of legally permitted dispensaries from four to six, the two council members said. The plan could go to the council’s Public Safety Committee as soon as June 22.
If the legislation is passed, the permits would be issued after taking into account safety, environmental and labor standards, among other factors, according to Kaplan. The operations would be subject to strict fire and safety code inspections, she said.
“The idea is to begin with a small number with very rigorous oversight,” Kaplan said. “Once that’s up and running and we’ve seen it can work, we can come back and amend (the ordinance).”
A commercial growing operation in a 170,000-square-foot facility would generate $2 million in annual revenue for Oakland’s general fund, according to an economic study commissioned by Jeff Wilcox, executive director of AgraMed Inc.
Oakland is now facing a $31 million deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
“Oakland’s been pretty brave in what they’ve done on medical cannabis,” Wilcox said. “When I started talking to people about this, I got a lot of support up and down from city leaders.”
The cultivation permits could also mean hundreds of good-paying jobs in the medical marijuana industry, which is now working with organized labor. Almost 100 workers in Oakland’s medical marijuana industry recently voted to join the United Food and Commercial Workers union.
Oakland in 2009 became the first city in the United States to adopt a voter-approved special tax on medical marijuana dispensaries.