Oakland Could Charge $211K A Year For Pot Cultivation Permit

Oakland, California’s plan to license and regulate large-scale medical marijuana farms have taken another tentative step forward after several setbacks. Unfortunately, the news isn’t particularly good for smaller growers.
The city’s rules and laws about medicinal cannabis dispensaries have sometimes been controversial, but mostly successful, with four dispensaries in town servicing thousands of patients and enjoying about $28 million in annual sales, reports Sean Maher at the Oakland Tribune.
But City Council members including Desley Brooks have long argued that there is little local control over where those four dispensaries get their marijuana. They have proposed, instead, city-licensed, industrial-scale marijuana grow operations to supply the dispensaries.

​​If that sounds as if you are supplying the federal Drug Enforcement Administration with an irresistibly tempting target, then you’re paying attention, Grasshopper.

The San Francisco-based law firm Meyers Nave took on the issue for Oakland in February after former City Attorney John Russo quit giving the council advice on the matter, saying state and federal authorities had weighed in against an earlier version of the pot farm plan.
The plan, now revised by Meyers Nave, would:
• Increase the number of dispensaries in Oakland from four to eight, and potentially to 12
• Amend the cultivation ordinance the council passed a year ago — which was never implemented — and allow cultivation only by the dispensaries, creating a so-called “closed-loop system”
• Set a limit of 25,000 square feet on any industrial-sized farms
• Set fees of $5,000 to apply for a permit, $60,000 for each annual dispensary permit and $211,000 (wow) for each annual cultivation permit
Of the four changes, only the increase in the number of dispensaries will go to the full council for approval next Tuesday. The council members were asked by Arturo Sanchez, who oversees the city’s permitting process, to hold off on the rest until they return from recess in September.
Angel Raich, founder of the ARCH Collective, a medical marijuana nonprofit in Oakland, is asking the council to consider prorating the $211,000 fee, since some growing operations could be significantly smaller than others.

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