Blowing Smoke: Oakland’s Massive Pot Farms

You may remember last summer, July 2010, when the city I live in, Oakland, CA, decided to license four major pot farms.

While the original plan was shut down in December due to conflict with federal law, there is a great debate going on here in Oakland regarding future cultivation models. Supposedly, progressive council people would like to put in a model that ultimately would restrict small cultivators in favor of large grows.

This is a political assault on the marijuana community by a small group of what people might call “greedy capitalist pigs” led by Jeff Wilcox, a developer known for his politically savvy projects who has no relationship with the marijuana community and whose main relationship seems to be with dead presidents.

Surprisingly, Dale Gieringer, president of California NORML, has taken a very conciliatory stance towards this legislation and these big developers rather than the general marijuana communtiy, consisting of consumers and small growers.

I am not afraid of the large cultivators because I don’t think they would necessarily have an economy of scale and would not be able to fulfill the many niche markets, so in a free market I dont think they would necessarily be successful, or at least they would just coexist with manufacturers of many different sizes.

However, given they have an alliance with the government you would assume if they were having problems the authorities would favor them rather than small growers and put further restrictions on the “unchosen”. The result would be perhaps the use of civil authority or the police to close down grows that are competing with the big boys.

I believe in the tomato model and I think that under this model the only way large grows like this could work is with government subsidies or by eliminating small growers. This should be about zoning, not licensing or permitting individuals with the most money to buy permits. To facilitate the growth of the City, the industry, and benefit the community there needs to be easy entrance and exit from the market and guaranteed better product.

I didn’t fight all these years to see a few oligarchs take it over.

I am not afraid of these ordinances because they are in conflict with California Agriculture Law.

The many “unchosen”, unlicensed small growers will have three choices, all of which I think will be used:

1) Continue growing seriptituiously and undersell the cartel (approved cultivators with permits).

2) Move to a different locaiton such as a nearby city which would allow cultivation and still give the grower the opportunity of selling to Oakland dispensaries.

3) Sue the city.

Between the many growers here in Oakland, all of these options will be exercised. If you would like to see my agricultural attorney’s report and my formal opinion on the matter email [email protected], I would love to share it with you.