The Oakland City Council last night voted to approve the licensing of four large-scale grow operations in industrial areas of the city to supply marijuana to the growing dispensary concerns in Oaksterdam. This makes Oakland the first city in the nation to license wholesale pot cultivation.
The only controversy surrounding the measure had to do with squeezing out smaller growers, and potentially sacrificing quality as marijuana growing in Oakland becomes "like McDonald's." Also, a couple of Council members voted no or abstained because of environmental and fair labor concerns. Council member Jane Quan sees the measure from a planning perspective, as a way of getting small- and medium-sized growers out of residential neighborhoods and into the industrial parts of town where they belong.
"Mega-growers will go for big, fast, cheap, so maybe it's not the best strain for people and their particular illness," said Terryn Buxton, a small-scale farmer who grows about 4-5 pounds of medicinal marijuana every couple of months to supply to dispensaries. But Buxton admits that this measure doesn't prevent several small growers from banding together in one farm.
Oakland's pot industry raked in $28 million in revenue last year, and that's only expected to grow. Oakland already taxes dispensaries at 1.8%, a rate they're looking to raise significantly, and they're planning to tax the newly licensed farms too.