Wednesday, July 21, 2010

City of Oakland OKs large medical marijuana farms

News that the San Francisco Bay Area city of Oakland had approved large-scale medical marijuana farming for medical use was met by silence by opponents of such cultivation and by U.S. authorities who have eased up on enforcement of a federal ban since the 2008 presidential election. The city council of Oakland, a city of 350,000 across the bay from San Francisco, passed a provision Tuesday legalizing "industrial" marijuana cultivation and agreed to issue as many as four permits for large operations next year, according to the Reuters international news service. Medical marijuana has been legal in California under a state law approved by voters in 1996, but it is still illegal under federal law and cultivation has only been allowed by individuals in small garden operations. But Oakland officials said the city would profit by allowing and taxing large-scale cultivation. "This is going to grow as an industry," City Councilwoman Jean Quan said during the debate. "And someone is going to have a high-tech producer." The city plans to impose an array of new taxes on growers and sellers next year, Reuters said. The council approval has no relation to a ballot initiative on the November ballot that would, if passed, make California the first state to legalize marijuana use. But law enforcement officials complain that underground marijuana cultivation in California have been dominated by criminals.

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