As we get closer to probable full scale legalization in 5 states, including the key state of California, I’ve noticed that the adversity to legalization is starting to push back with everything they can muster. In most cases, that’s not very much. Regardless, in writing this week’s blog, I didn’t really want to give too much energy to the provider of prison food donating to campaigns that fight to keep marijuana illegal in Arizona
or the gross misuse of tax payer dollars and resources in using a military chopper and police unit to confiscate a single cannabis plant
from an 81-year-old woman in Massachusetts. Rather, I was much more interested in focusing on the positive and this week that news comes courtesy of a piece in The Guardian about Bob Marley’s youngest son, Damian Marley, transforming a stagnating California prison into a lucrative multi-tiered marijuana growing operation
that, in some cases, is finding people who once opposed marijuana considering weed jobs.
Marley’s Poetic Justice
While this blog is more likely to demand marijuana users be let out of prisons then suggest they visit one, Marley has turned that notion on its head in this scenario. Partnering with Ocean Grown Extracts
who collaborated with him on his “Speak Life” cannabis line, he has plans to take a long-defunct prison nestled in the struggling California town of Coalinga and overhaul it into a wholesale medical cannabis facility that promises to offer a bevy of much-needed weed jobs. The poetry of transforming a prison into a factory of liberation is not lost on Marley. “It’s a statement to grow herb in a place that used to contain prisoners locked up for herb,” he re-emphasized to The Guardian. It’s one thing to defeat an oppressor; it’s a whole other thing to assimilate one.
Coalinga’s Strong Necessity for Weed Jobs
Despite the fact that the prison has literally been gathering dust, Marley’s plans were originally met with skepticism and reluctance by the conservative dwindling citizens of Coalinga. But those who have dug their roots in for the long haul have found the soil less than fertile, especially following the 2011 closure of the prison. Coalinga, once a hot spot for petroleum mining, punctuates the drought-stricken San Joaquin Valley. Though the petroleum fields and agricultural pursuits still keep Coalinga alive, the prison was an axis of employment for the small town, generating well over 100 jobs. While 100 positions may not seem like much, the prison closure put a noticeable dent into the economy of the town of roughly over 17,000. In fact, this year found debt related to the shuttering of the prison crossing the $4 million mark, requiring half of Coalinga’s government workers to receive pink slips. While citizens may still take a conservative approach to marijuana legalization, many have come around in the face of financial crisis. Marley’s project is expected to revitalize Coalinga with 100 full-time weed jobs and 1,000 temporary positions during the construction and renovation of the abandoned prison.
A Means of Changing Minds
Marley’s innovative idea has put Coalinga in an interesting position, tying marijuana legalization to economy in a way that commands attention. People who would under more comfortable circumstances ignore the benefits of marijuana in favor of archaic opposing views are finding it in their best financial interests to approach the herb with a more open mind. An enterprise like Marley’s cannabis production plant offers a means to change more minds than some of the best psychologized advocacy campaigns. The word is already spreading with Marley’s concept taking root in an unrelated venture in the desert town of Adelanto which is also seeing a detainment facility made over into a processing plant for medical marijuana. Like Coalinga, Adelanto relied on its prison for numerous employment opportunities. Many of those effected by the closure are seeking out new and promising careers in cannabusiness. Analysts project that the amount of new weed jobs coming to Adelanto will number into the thousands.
The full scale of Marley’s vision remains to be seen, though a representative of Ocean Grown Extracts confirmed that the prison’s cafeteria will be used for refining cannabis oils while the voluminous corridors will be used for marijuana cultivation. Measuring at 77,000 square feet, the team are sure to find plenty of use for the former prison. While most people would see a facility for detainment, Marley saw a sanctuary for growth. It’s that mentality that will eventually see us to full scale marijuana legalization.