Oakland to look at large pot growing permits

July 20, 2010 8:55:28 AM PDT
The Oakland City Council is moving forward on a plan that would make it the first in the nation to legalize marijuana growing operations on a grand scale. But the plan to profit off pot has some crying foul.

The city council will be taking a look at issuing four permits for large scale growing operations. There would be no size limits. One company wants to grow 100,000 square feet worth of cannabis ? imagine two football fields worth of marijuana.

Currently, the farms can only sell their pot to marijuana dispensaries. But, in California voters will have the opportunity to legalize pot in November and Oakland would be up and running with a large legal growing operation.

Some say the myriad of growers now supplying to dispensaries who have been there since the beginning of the medical marijuana movement would be left behind.

"Is it government's role to pick the winners and say 'ohh it's only the factories, we can only have the Colombo bread, the 29 cent tomatoes.' Or is it the government's job to provide a level playing field. To say you can have the mass production and you can also have the small, organic, boutique product as well," said James Anthony of the Harborside Health Clinic.

The city council does allow for some small and medium size growing operations. Others say that the small growers could band together and become a large growing operation that way.

One wild card in all of this is that even if the city approves the large operations, there is no guarantee that the federal government will go along with it. The vote is scheduled for tonight.