Oakland Gives Thumbs-Up To Large-Scale Marijuana Factories, Asks "Are You Gonna Eat That?"

While L.A. has been cracking down in a harsh way on medical marijuana dispensaries, its much cooler cousin up north, Oakland, is opening its arms to embrace the demon weed. Yesterday, the Oakland City Council approved an ordinance that could take pot-growing out of your basement and into legitimate commercial factories.

This means that Oakland could soon see as many as four huge pot factories sprout up in the coming year. This would make the city the first municipality in California to be home to above-the-board large scale pot production.

Said the head of California NORML, between scoops of his Snickers Blizzard:

This is a monumental step forward… It really means moving into the era of industrial-scale operations and Oakland means to do it big.

There are already a large number of licensed, small-scale growers who provide the herb to local dispensaries. Just those handful of growers alone were responsible for $28 million in marijuana sales in 2009. Many of these fun farmers are worried about the impact of a Walmart-sized pot factory on their livelihoods.

Oakland may be the first to openly approve large-scale marijuana factories, but it likely won’t be the last. Nearby Berkeley — that bastion of traditional West Coast conservatism — is looking at a referendum that would allow six such pot powerhouses to be opened.

Oakland currently has a tax on legally sold marijuana of 1.8%, though it is reportedly considering cranking that number up to increase revenue.

Oakland council OKs plan to set up pot factories [L.A. Times]