Mapping The Legal Marijuana Industry

Welcome to Oaksterdam, California’s newest, least orthodox tourist attraction. Welcome, possibly, to the future of a multibillion-dollar business around legal marijuana.

Spread over an eight-block area of formerly disused downtown Oakland, the self-described Oaksterdam district neighborhood includes clinics and dispensaries for medical marijuana, coffee shops catering to cannabis patient, pot-themed souvenir shops, specialist law offices and Oaksterdam University, an education center for growing and dispensing marijuana. There are Segway tours, tourists and film crews.

There is also a busy office where a mostly young and energetic staff work to pass Proposition 19, a California ballot initiative that would allow people over 21 to grow, possess and transport marijuana for personal use, subject to local regulation and taxation. They foresee a day when licit marijuana use is widespread, tax revenues reach $1.6 billion despite collapsing prices for the product, and perhaps 100,000 union jobs are created in the legal dope industry.

It is difficult to say what the proposition’s chances are in the Nov. 2 vote. The ballot-betting website Intrade puts the odds at about 60-40 against, but that is on relatively small volume. In opinion polls the race is much tighter, though still against it, if a person is asking the question. In automated polls the measure passes overwhelmingly, leading organizers to conclude that the winning swing vote is people who say one thing in public, and vote another way when alone in the ballot booth.

Oaksterdam University’s founder, Richard Lee, is one of Prop 19’s original proponents. He thinks it will pass, and that legal pot will be an industry “like vintners or brewers… that’s why we started a trade school.” Oaksterdam’s classes involve issues in growing and preparing marijuana, as well as legal and business issues. Lee says 12,000 people have taken classes there over the past three years.

Inside the Prop 19 lobbying office, Dan Rush, a special operations executive with Local 5 of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union, figures legal cannabis is good for his business. “This is an industry that should be regulated, and unions are how you do that,” he says. “We want to see tens of thousands of good-paying jobs from a dignified industry that has good worker principles.” Besides growing and regulating sales, he says, there are jobs to be had in preparation of pot-laced foods, packaging and labeling, transportation, and hemp-based products that use parts of the plant without the drug.

In Oaksterdam, things already have a feel of legalization’s normality. Prices for both cannabis and a doctor’s prescription have fallen with increased competition. Lines form outside the dispensaries after 5 p.m., as some very fit-seeming patients get off work. Seeds and plants come with brand names like Purple Dawg and Sweet Tooth. Somewhat like wines described by their grape varieties, these brands carry info on their genetic heritage (Dairy Queen is a cross of U.K. Cheese, Cindy 99 and Romulan, a once-popular brand).

As with many other industries, the real money in legal marijuana may be less in the product as in the means to produce and manage things–think picks and shovels in the gold rush, Cisco routers in the Internet or Halliburton in oil. Prices for cannabis itself may fall. Lee figures an ounce will be “$100, with $50 of that in taxes,” down from $300 or more today. But the business of indoor growing equipment makers and nutrient companies is likely to increase, along with lifestyle publications, as localities license home and industrial growers. Ed Rosenthal, a noted expert in the field, lists his consultancy services in one magazine.

Advocates figure they could still lose, but seem encouraged even by the close call of the polls–a 1972 legalization vote lost by two-thirds–as well as the cash-strapped needs of localities. If California goes, they figure, other states will soon follow, but the earlier legalization and storied past will give California a lasting presence in the business.

“I tell growers in Mendocino [County, a noted cannabis producer] to patent processes, create brands,” says Rush, the ironically named union organizer. “They need to think about eventually stimulating exports beyond the border to Taiwan, Ecuador–anywhere.”

– Article from Forbes.

Comments

13 Comments

  1. Betty White on

    getting arrested is a greater restriction of freedom then a limited 25 sq ft grow area. no one cares about you losing money after it’s legalized.

  2. Betty White on

    the FEDS dont have enough resources to enforce the marijuana laws if the state allows it. it quickly becomes more logical to just not raid peoples residences and businesses for personal use marijuana. have you not heard about the government ending the raids on medical marijuana dispensaries? even right now, the federal government specifically goes after drug cartel grows because thats where most of the violence is (obviously). if it is legalized and hard working citizens are growing and smoking pot at the end of the day to relax, no one is gonna bust down their doors.

  3. Anonymous on

    Bring the FEDS in harder than ever and Californians will suffer even more than before. The only way is to lay low and let the VOLUME OF SMOKERS OVERWHELM THEM….thats always been the strategy, and it was working.

    You pass Prop 19 and guaranteed the FEDREAL GOV”T will give us a taste of the law fed style like you’ve never seen before!

    YOU ACTUALLY THINK THE FEDS ARE GOING TO ALLOW THIS KIND OF CONFUSION?

    Trouble with those vote yessers is that hydroheadache they always got….lol

  4. Anonymous on

    Garbage to smoke!

    Thats what prop 19 does ….it promotes all those garbage growers you get your weed from….the ones who use all those chemicals in your weed and throw chemicals down the drain into our water system…

    EVERYONE THAT SMOKES MARIJUANA DOES SO FOR MEDICAL REASONS…..SEE YOUR DR. AND YOU CAN HAVE ALL YOU WANT.

    Right now I grow legally 10 pounds a year for myself and my family….why screw that up….all ya gotta do is see a DR.

    THIS REGULATES MARIJUANA NOT LEGALIZE IT…….ITS ALREADY LEGAL in California under Prop 215.

  5. Anonymous on

    Vote yes on Prop 19 so you can have commerical garbage and a hydroponic headache from all those COMMERICAL HYDRO GROWERS that the sell at your corner 7-11…..

    I’ll continue to grow my own….and laugh at all those ghetto red bullers smoking THAT GARBAGE….I THREW THAT PURPLE CRAP AWAY….its a NO HIGH COMPARED TO WQHAT I GOT!

    Ghetto rats FOOLS AGAIN!

    OTHERWISE AVOID MORE RESTRICTIONS ON FREEDOM VOTE FUCKING NO… GHETTO RAT WITHOUT A BRAIN FROM THE HYDRO RAIN OF CHENICALS YOU BE INJESTING…..LOLOLOL

    The guy who wrote prop 19 ain’t even from California and his family is full of cops….go figure!…comerical ghetto rats!

  6. jmf420 on

    Yeah, it’s the closest thing to a free economy that we have in this country, until the feds come in and throw your ass in jail. Then you’re back to pissing and moaning. This bill might not be perfect, but it is a start. If you are a user/grower of cannabis in any way, shape, or form, and you vote no on prop 19, then you are a traitor to the greater cause and most likely have some ulterior motive for doing so. And to all of the dispensaries that are promoting a no vote on this bill, just remember what it was like out there during the Bush years and know that sooner or later, the gop will get back into office. Vote yes on 19 and give yourselves one more tool to fight prohibition with.

  7. Anonymous on

    Vote yes on Prop 19 so you can have commerical garbage and a hydroponic headache from all those COMMERICAL HYDRO GROWERS that the sell at your corner 7-11…..

    I’ll continue to grow my own….and laugh at all those ghetto red bullers smoking THAT GARBAGE….I THREW THAT PURPLE CRAP AWAY….its a NO HIGH COMPARED TO WHAT I GOT!

    Ghetto rats FOOLS AGAIN!

    OTHERWISE AVOID MORE RESTRICTIONS ON FREEDOM VOTE FUCKING NO… GHETTO RAT WITHOUT A BRAIN FROM THE HYDRO RAIN OF CHENICALS YOU BE INJESTING…..LOLOLOL

    The guy who wrote prop 19 ain’t even from California and his family is full of cops….go figure!…comerical ghetto rats….hey turn on Springer enjoy that headache!

  8. Adrian on

    That’s what we need right? More laws, agencies, unions, telling us what to do, how to do it, and charging us up the ass the whole time. Growers and patients are capable of regulating our industry just fine without government intervention. The only thing we need is for law enforcement to correctly enforce existing STATE laws, and for the state of California to stop allowing the Federal Government to meddle in state affairs.

    The cannabis business as we currently know it is probably the closest thing to a free economy that we have in this country, let’s keep it that way.

  9. cybergenesis on

    Mate, if you believe in marijuana legalization and you vote no on prop 19, then you are a fool.

    Obviously people aren’t going to get everything they want, but if prop 19 is defeated it will seriously set back the legalization movement, possibly for many years.

    Get in legal in Cali first, then if move to another state once they legalize it and have the laws that you are after.

  10. David762 on

    If the Mexican drug cartels are put out of business, hopefully that means that they will no longer be growing their cannabis in our State and National Parks, which stretch from the forests of Mendocino County to the deep woods of Minnesota. Legal cannabis prices might drop by 80%, but so will the quality. There will always be premium grade cannabis available that commands premium prices. And legal, not just decriminalized, is where we need to get back to — as legal as home-brewed beer; no more arrests for simple possession of cannabis.

    Prop 19 is far from a perfect bit of legislation — there are far too many omissions and restrictions that leave large gray areas for the opponents of re-legalization to exploit. But one thing worse than passing Prop 19 is not passing Prop 19 — in case no one has been paying attention, California has been leading the rest of the country, first with MMJ and now with re-legalization. Without this impetus, I doubt that ending this War OF Drugs AGAINST People will ever gain any traction at the Federal level, even especially with the Democrats and Obama at the helm of State.

    But Prop 19 should not be permitting the local jurisdictions to over-ride a State-wide citizens’ proposition, especially since it has already become quite apparent that there are many local DAs, LEOs, and repressive politicians that are “busy little bees” chipping away at Prop 215 and 420. Imagine a CA county banning all alcohol, all tobacco, or both? Yet such counties and their repressive political power structures do exist, even today.

    Vote FOR Prop 19, and we’ll have to fix the new inequalities and injustices at the ballot box and the legislature — at least until such time as populists promulgating social justice end Prohibition 2.0 at the Federal level.

  11. MOTFA on

    “to buy purple kush indoor”

    ak you fuck with me. :-)

  12. MOTFA on

    While you are voting no and growing weed in your closet for the next 4 months, i will be voting yes and walking across the street to the fucking 7-11 purple kush indoor shit for a little more, but fuck it cuz it’s my birthday.

    puff puff pass to the asshole anon on the right.

  13. Anonymous on

    While they speculate that Marijuana made quasi-legal will reduce price and encourage entermanureshit(free market)…it will undoubtedly be taken over by Cities and Counties and they will control and regulate anything sold in the City limits and tax the shit out of it.

    There goes quality….

    Oakland is already offering limited commerical license @$400,000 each plus they poilce and regulate how its sold. And the plan is for all indoor shit! The individual is limited under this prop 19 at getting what they need and can still be arrested. The police and courts are protected as there revenue scheme will increase as will the lawyers and all there little helpers. This prop 19 does not legalize marijuana in California but puts workers at risk of positive testing which the network of testers lobbies for in Sacramento and refuse to quit testing for pot heads.

    There goes the Quality!

    It would be better to vote NO on prop 19 and find another way for our superiour FARMERS IN THE BIG VALLEY get there hands on Columbian Gold, Panama Red and those other 1960’s outta mind strains before it all went indoors. Any idiot that can read can grow hydroheadache indoor no high weed!….looks good but what a fucking headache!

    There goes the quality. VOTE NO ON 19 unless you like policing!