OAKLAND -- The City Council is talking about sanctioned marijuana cultivation again after some legal scares put the issue on ice late last year, and a new policy could be in place within two weeks.
The council voted in December to hold off implementing its program to permit and tax industrial-sized medical marijuana cultivation businesses. The proposal, which would also double the number of permitted dispensaries, was delayed until the new cultivation law could be revised to address some legal concerns that local prosecutors said could land the council members in jail.
A revised ordinance, written chiefly by Councilmember Desley Brooks (Eastmont-Seminary), got the discussion started again at Tuesday night's meeting.
In December, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley wrote a letter to Mayor Jean Quan warning that the standing version of the ordinance could cross state laws and result in the City Council facing prosecution. Before that, Oakland City Attorney John Russo warned the council that federal law enforcement officials had "expressed concerns that the path Oakland is taking is in violation of the law."
Of primary concern was establishing a clearly defined "closed-loop" system between the cultivation and the dispensaries, to avoid, among other things, cultivators growing pot for people other than medicinal marijuana patients.
Brooks said her new draft covers that issue, by allowing cultivators to double as dispensers. Those that do would be required to grow at least 70 percent of the marijuana they sell, and each farm would be capped at 50,000 square feet.
Representatives of O'Malley, Russo and the local U. S. Attorney's Office all declined to comment Tuesday on the new draft, but an alternative proposal from Russo's office is expected this week.
The proposals will go to the Public Safety Committee meeting on Feb. 8 and a final draft could return to the City Council as soon as Feb. 15 for a final vote. Both meetings are open to the public.
Contact Sean Maher at 510-208-6430.