Calif. Pot Dealers Fear 'Fast Food' Weed

Only major operations can afford Oakland fees
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Jul 19, 2010 2:58 AM CDT
Oakland wants 4 major pot production operations to pay $211,000 in annual fees.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
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(Newser) – A tough Oakland bill demanding hefty taxes and licensing fees from pot distributors has small-time operations fearing a new era of "McDonald's-style" commercial weed that will drive little guys out of business. Under the bill, being debated tomorrow, 4 pot production plants would each have to pay $211,000 in annual permit fees, carry $2 million in liability insurance and pay an 8% sales tax. "Nobody wants to see the McDonald's-ization of cannabis," said one disgruntled "patient-grower" who helps supply Oakland's largest pot dispensary, Harborside Health Center.

But others say the plan is the best way to make pot production safer, more efficient and capture some profits and other benefits for the public. "The large-scale grow facilities that are being proposed with this ordinance will create hundreds of jobs for the city," said Ryan Indigo Warman, who teaches pot-growing at a local hydroponics store. Allowing "medical cannabis to be produced in a responsible way benefit the patients, the workers and the people of Oakland," Council member Rebecca Kaplan told AP.

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