The city council in Coalinga, California voted 4-1 in favor of re-purposing a nearby abandoned prison into a factory for the cultivation and processing of medicinal cannabis concentrates.
The Coalinga City Council started considering their options in commercial cannabis in January. The council invited medical marijuana producer Ocean Grown Extracts to present a manufacturing plan for the prison Wednesday.
During the presentation, the company announced that their move into the abandoned prison would ultimately generate 55 local jobs, and the former prison would be a secure enough location that any potential disruption to the community could be easily prevented.
After the presentation, the council decided that such a move would ultimately benefit the small town, which currently faces a $3.2 million debt.
Ron Ramsey, the town’s mayor, supports the plan. “We need some kind of revenue, we’re hurting right now,” he said. “… I don’t want to wait until November and all these other cities jump into it too. There’s a lot of cities hurting right now.”
There has been some local backlash against the plan, however, including dissent from Sheriff Margaret Mims of the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. “I think they are looking at this as a quick fix, and the problem with that is they won’t be able to stop because they will be so addicted to this revenue,” she said. Some Coalinga residents also voiced concerns that a new cannabis factory could pose potential risks for the town’s youth.
Though the plan has the city council’s early approval, the actual sale process of the prison could take up to six months.
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