Pubdate: Sun, 7 Nov 2010
Source: New York Times (NY)
Page: A37A
Copyright: 2010 The New York Times Company
Author: Zusha Elinson
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


The television news crews that descended on Oakland last week to 
cover the outcome of Proposition 19, which would have legalized 
marijuana in the state, are now long gone, along with the high hopes 
of many local cannabis entrepreneurs.

But Oakland's vision of becoming a global center of the marijuana 
industry lives on. Proposition 19 would have given the city's plans 
to allow four enormous cultivation factories a stamp of approval at 
least on the state level. With 54 percent of state voters rejecting 
full legalization, Oakland will now push further into a legal gray 
area by trying to permit and tax large medical marijuana operations.

The Oakland City Council will vote Tuesday on how to handle 
applications for four industrial cannabis farms.

"All of this wasn't predicated on Prop. 19, and so whether or not 
Prop. 19 passed or failed, we were going to move forward," said Larry 
Reid, a council member who co-sponsored the marijuana-farm 
legislation with Rebecca Kaplan.

Asked if it was legal under current law, Mr. Reid answered casually, 
"We'll find out if it is or not."

Existing medical marijuana law requires that operations be run as 
collectives of caregivers and patients. But lawyers including William 
Panzer, who helped write the state's medical marijuana law, question 
how that will be possible with such large operations.

Even the Oakland city attorney, John Russo, a big supporter of 
Proposition 19, appears skeptical. Mr. Russo did not sign the 
cultivation ordinance -- normally a formality -- and declined to 
comment for this article because of potential litigation.

Mr. Panzer said he feared that the effort to make marijuana a 
mainstream industry was moving too fast in light of the fact that it 
is still illegal under federal law.

"Imagine you're driving and you're going 56 on the highway and you 
haven't got a ticket so you say maybe I can go 57," Mr. Panzer said. 
"Well, they said I'm going 58 and I'm not getting a ticket so maybe 
I'll go 95 -- you tell me what's going to happen."

Oakland is not alone in pushing ahead. Berkeley voters passed a 
measure on Tuesday that would allow six 30,000-square-foot indoor 
growing operations in West Berkeley. And advocates are already 
gearing up to put legalization on the ballot again in 2012.

Meanwhile, on the streets of Oakland, it is not clear how much will change.

Groups of teenagers gathered Tuesday night outside Oaksterdam 
University, the hub of the local medical marijuana trade, along with 
reporters and campaign workers. Morgan Almason, who after clarifying 
that the measure would not make marijuana legal for teenagers said 
she was "21 for tonight," was with her friends smoking marijuana.

Ms. Almason said she supported Proposition 19 because "I support 
marijuana," although she later admitted that she had not voted in the 
election. As the night wore on and Proposition 19 began to look like 
a sure loser, she commented, "That's not going to stop me."
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake