Recent years have seen the opinion on cannabis among the general public change for the better across North America. Unfortunately, the mainstream news media is still lagging behind in this regard, and many of you may have missed this gem of a story:

A few months ago, in the small Central California city of Coalinga, Council voted 4-1 to allow commercial marijuana cultivation within city limits. But that’s not all.


The city also approved the sale of their long dormant prison, the Claremont Custody Center. The buyer? A company called Ocean Grown Extracts, which intends to repurpose the prison as a medical cannabis oil extraction plant.


For Coalinga, the deal made sound economic sense. City Manager Marissa Trejo said the city was over three million in debt, and Ocean Grow’s $4.1 million dollar purchase price will immediately send Coalinga’s general fund into the black.


Though the sale was hotly debated amongst both council and citizens in the months leading up to the vote, city officials spent countless hours interacting with the community on the subject of the medicinal marijuana industry.


“We listened to the citizens and created a package that was reflective of our population.”  

Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Keough

Over at Ocean Grown, the outlook is similarly positive.


“We’re thrilled to be able to offer 100 jobs and make safe medicine available for patients,” co-owner Casey Dalton said to The Fresno Bee. “We appreciate Coalinga taking a chance not only on us, but on the industry.” Dalton went on to say that she hopes to have the business running within six months.


At a recent job fair, Ocean Grown received over two hundred job applications for the proposed oil extraction operation, and co-owner Kelly Dalton, Casey’s brother, believes that the community understands that cannabis is a medicine.


In case there was any confusion, the language of the new ordinances makes it abundantly clear that the cannabis cultivated is for medicinal purposes. The owner of any operation within city limits assumes full liability, and is responsible for dealing with any legal issues that arise. Furthermore, in addition to passing background checks, all employees and contractors must receive permission from the city before working at a cultivation site, and the owner of the operation must keep this information on file with the local police.


The facility must be locked, gated and kept under 24-hour video monitoring – a feat that should be easy to accomplish inside a former prison.

Cannabis cultivation operations are also forbidden from advertising or posting signage, required to control the smell coming from their plant and must fix electronic tracking devices to all plants.


Still, despite all the terms and conditions, this is great news for the future. So great in fact that nearby Huron, California may soon follow suit. According to the City Council’s monthly agenda, a recent meeting featured a medicinal marijuana presentation, and though no decisions have been reached, the city is actively compiling information on cannabis.

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AUTHOR: Matt Kyska
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