March 3, 2011; Source: New York Times | Oakland, Calif. has since last fall been planning aggressively to host marijuana farms for the taxes and fees that could be produced. In fact, recently the city floated an RFA inviting business plans for what they anticipated would be four large growing operations. The query brought responses and significant early investments from a number of business people, promising significant new job creation in the city, which now has a 17% unemployment rate, and tax investment in this city. A few of the investors had leased real estate to establish sophisticated agribusinesses in the city.

Although 14 states have now developed a system of pot dispensaries that are legal by state laws, growing operations in California, where the dispensaries have been in place for some time, still exist underground and has prevented government from benefiting from them.

Oakland’s plan would have brought in as much as $38 million, which would have contributed to the city’s tax base (the current year’s deficit is projected to be $31 million) and to local nonprofits. Unfortunately, a letter written to the Department of Justice by the city attorney brought a negative reaction and plans have, for now, been scuttled. The investors are taking their business elsewhere.

I submit that the time is ripe for our politicians to see this realm of activity as an excellent source of jobs and local taxes much akin to vineyards or any other agricultural endeavor. Let’s move on!—Ruth McCambridge