Chronic City: The 'Oaksterdam Model' For Legal Pot In California

Oaksterdam University
With Oakland broke and growing broker (like many other American cities), calls for the city to get into the growing and selling of medical Marijuana are being taken more seriously.

The idea seems a lot less crazy when you take a look at the potential revenue to be generated, especially in conjunction with the near-emergency condition of Oakland's municipal budget. Additionally, now that Attorney General Eric Holder has pledged that the Obama administration will stop federal raids on medical Marijuana suppliers who are obeying state laws, it begins to sound downright plausible.

Local blog "Rebuilding Oaktown" proposed the idea Saturday, after noting that increasing the taxing of medical Marijuana (as an additional revenue source for the financially strapped city) has already been kicked around in Bay Area blogs for the last couple months after the City Council in April took steps to do exactly that.

The proposed tax increase is billed as one way to generate additional revenue from medical Marijuana dispensaries. Oakland faces a deficit expected to reach $65 million in the 2009-10 fiscal year, according to the Oakland Tribune.

All four licensed Oakland dispensaries indicated they were amenable to the tax proposal in April, agreeing to pay a tax at 10 times the current rate -- 1.2 percent (that's $12 per $1,000 of gross receipts).

But Rebuilding Oaktown goes a lot farther with the idea. The blog notes that the Uptown "parking lot" is empty and unused, and proposes that "instead of... a do-nothing dirt field," the City of Oakland should put a hemp farm contract out to bid, and further should choose Oaksterdam University to administrate subplots in the large empty lot.

Under the plan, the city would receive 70 percent of proceeds, while growers and administrator would receive 30 percent for landscaping, fence, and security.

Crazy idea? Maybe. But not so fast. AlterNet on Monday advanced Oaksterdam as a model for Marijuana legalization throughout California.

According to AlterNet, pot entrepreneur Richard Lee (who owns seven buildings -- including Oaksterdam University -- within a radius of a few blogs, and who is also working to get legal Marijuana on the California ballot in 2010) "soon will be the person most associated with pot legalization in America."

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