Tag Archives: oakland

Look Out California Growers, the Weed Walmart is Coming

There’s a lot of information to digest in this excellent piece on the ups and downs of the California Medical Marijuana trade, but I wanted to draw your attention to this: We now know one of the people who will benefit from Oakland’s licensed grow warehouse proposal:

The Council will consider the new plan in July, and if it passes, the AgraMed company will be poised to apply. The company proposes to build a 100,000-square-foot medical marijuana megafarm beside Interstate 880 near Oakland International Airport that, according to projections, could generate 58 pounds of pot a day and $59 million a year in revenue.

As we learn in the article, AgraMed’s President is Jeff Wilcox. He is also a member of the steering committee for the initiative to legalize marijuana. Some of us want to legalize marijuana because it’s the right thing to do. Jeff Wilcox wants it legalized because he stands to make almost $60 million per year.

Now we know why this proposal was written this way. It benefits a few well-connected political players while leaving all the small producers, grower’s collectives and other medical marijuana entrepreneurs to twist in the wind.

People like Chris Smith, for instance:

“To me, it’s a money movement now,” said Chris Smith, who is part of 40 Acres Medical Marijuana Collective, an underground medical marijuana group in Berkeley. “Most of them probably got a little political pull or a little political networking; they got lawyers; they got money for lawyers; they jump right in to position.”

The 40 Acres Collective consists of about 100 growers and users who gather to share pot, money and plants.

Smith said the collective would like to be able to get a city permit and become a licensed dispensary. But the city has capped the number of pot clubs at three, and all the spots are taken. Smith said he worried that 40 Acres Collective might ultimately be shut out.

What happens when Smith’s collective is “shut out”? He’ll be forced to pay a premium price to get his medicine from the same mega-business that ruined his livelihood.

This proposal is a slap in the face to the thousands of small growers in California, the very people who created and improved some of the strains that have proven so effective for medicinal use. The more I read about it, the more I’m opposed to it. I’ll take no law over entrenching big business any day.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Oakland considers sanctioning large-scale grows

The City of Oakland, one of the most marijuana-friendly in the country, is tired of indoor growers starting fires, so the City Council is planning introduce legislation to sanction a few large-scale commercial grow operations. At this point,they are envisioning three to four commercial grows, located in an industrial section of the city.

While I applaud the ongoing efforts of Oakland city authorities to legitimize marijuana and bring it into the mainstream, I have many problems with this proposal.

First, it won’t work. Small growers don’t grow because the cops let them, they grow because it is profitable. All this proposal would do is flood the market, making it marginally less profitable to grow at home, but not likely to drive out small indoor growers altogether.  Mostly, it will reduce the growers’ profits, making them less likely to spend money on, say, properly hooking up their electricity.

Second, this would establish a “big business” model, in which the entire medical marijuana industry would be dominated by a few well-connected megagrowers. These few growers would reap huge profits (as Harborside, Oakland’s biggest dispensary and one of the most likely recipients of a grow permit, is already doing), while the small-time growers would be forced to either accept lower prices or be forced into an already bleak job market.

The concentration of power over the supply of medicine in the hands of a few big businesses flies directly in the face of California Attorney General Jerry Brown’s Guidelines for the Security and Non-Diversion of Marijuana for Medical Use, which mandate that all dispensaries operate as non-profit collectives or co-operatives, and that primary caregivers may only have multiple patients “in the same city or county.”

My recommendation would be to empower a local organization to certify, anonymously, the safety of a grow. Dispensaries could demand proof of inspection from each vendor. This would address the fire hazard problem while keeping the supply side populated with actively-employed collective members.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized