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Resurrecting Marijuana Sales in California

November 23, 2010

Wild marijuana plant, Tadapani
Image by Dey via Flickr

Despite California voters earlier this November rejecting a Proposition 19 that would have legalized marijuana for recreational use, there seems to be a continued thriving medical marijuana industry. There are numerous Northern California cities that are ready to setup voter-approved taxes on medical marijuana shops; this includes many government sanctioned marijuana farms to supply these shops.

Medical marijuana cultivation has been legal in California since 1996; however, it has not been a successful venture as far as cities are concerned. That all changes soon. Oakland will begin an application process and allow small, industrial scale marijuana farms within it’s city limits. In Berkeley, a city ballot measure is going to allow medical pot cultivation in industrial zones. In Sonoma County where wine is king, the small town of Sebastopol passed a city ordinance to allow two large gardens for medical marijuana.

Currently the state of California allows under marijuana laws that all businesses operating in the medical marijuana trade must do it as a nonprofit organization. However, the cities that are allowing the growers to cultivate marijuana, are doing so for amounts way over what any typical grower had been allowed to grow previously.

The DEA has contacted some of these cities and has asked for copies of their regulations. If the DEA is conducting the research, they may be looking at ways to help cities navigate the legal issues on medical marijuana regulation.

The business opportunity for medical marijuana greatly outweighs any stigma that is attached to being associated with pot. Many experts believe that the risk is manageable and that the potential market is so large, it can’t be ignored. One Oakland permit is for a 100,000 square foot growing facility that could generate over $70 million annually. That would mean more than $3.5 million in city tax dollars to Oakland. It would also mean more than 370 jobs at an average annual salary of $50,000.

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