By Mikal Jakubal
An article in San Francisco’s The Bay Citizen describes recent contact between the Drug Enforcement Administration and Oakland city officials regarding their recently-passed marijuana-growing regulations. The new rules would permit four indoor warehouse mega-grows, the biggest of them being capable of producing over fifty pounds of dried weed per day. It was a question that many people had been asking, not just about Oakland, but about Proposition 19 and local ordinances like the one HuMMAP has proposed for Humboldt County.
I get asked all the time what I think the Feds will do if Prop 19 passes and if something like HuMMAP’s ordinance is adopted in Humboldt County. That ordinance would allow everyone to pay a modest license fee and grow a boat-load of weed for sale to the recreational market. I’ve always thought the DEA wouldn’t really do anything. The fact that they are looking at Oakland’s ordinance (and probably neighboring Berkeley’s proposed ordinance as well) and with the recent raid on Mendocino County’s first permitted grow site under the Sheriff’s new plan suggests that they may try some last-ditch intimidation tactics. I’d put my money on them taking a less jack-booted approach, though. Instead, they may threaten to withhold Federal highway or school funds or something along those lines until California rescinds recreational pot use.
If it passes in the first place. The threat of Federal intervention is no reason to vote against Prop 19. Pass the law first, then let’s see what happens.
Interestingly enough, Oakland’s own city attorney has expressed doubts about the legality of the new ordinance. From what I understand of the currently-legal “medical marijuana model”—a mix of laws, court decisions and guidelines—the Oakland mega-grows are pushing the limits waaaaay out past what even the most liberal interpretation of the model would allow. I suspect that they see the recreational writing on the wall and want to be out ahead of the curve in terms of both profiting from it and controlling it. I suspect that if Prop 19 passes, Oakland will simply modify the permit system to allow recreational sales from the few currently permitted dispensaries and grow warehouses. Individuals will still be able to freely possess one ounce and grow a 5′ x 5′ garden, but anything else would be tightly controlled by the city.
It’s a sign of the times that Humboldt, once ground zero for the marijuana wars, is barely worth a half-hearted skirmish anymore. I’m sure everyone here is fine with that. If Oakland wants mega-grows, let them take the heat that comes with it.