Medical pot is an extremely risky business to be in these days, with raids, arrests and the threat of criminal prosecution becoming commonplace. The federal government is now even targeting dispensaries and MMJ businesses that are in compliance with state laws, escalating the war on medical marijuana to a new level.
Given that backdrop, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to start a dispensary or grow operation under these conditions. Especially in California – the center of the Obama administration’s crackdown – and specifically Oakland, which always seems to find itself in the federal cross hairs when it comes to medical marijuana issues.
But a dozen individuals and groups in Oakland are hoping to do just that, submitting applications to open one of four new dispensaries the city will allow as part of a previous plan to double the number of MMCs, according to SF Weekly.
Local officials received 12 applications for dispensary permits by last week’s deadline and have now started the review process.
It’s interesting that Oakland has decided to follow through with its plan to allow more dispensaries, as many cities and towns in California and others states with medical marijuana laws have imposed moratoriums on new permits. The uncertainty in the industry has made public officials skittish, and they want to see how everything plays out before moving forward.
You’d think officials and pot entrepreneurs in Oakland would be even more fearful. The city recently backed off plans to license massive marijuana growing facilities after the federal government threatened legal action. And the IRS has come down particularly hard on Oakland-based Harborside Health Center – one of the largest dispensaries in the country – in the past few weeks, saying it doesn’t qualify for standard business deductions and therefore must pay $2 million in back taxes. Harborside executives have said the decision, if it sticks, could be enough to sink the business.
Not the kind of attention you want when opening a dispensary. But for 12 people, the potential rewards are greater than the risks.