Local California legislatures are in talks with Ocean Grown Extracts to convert a local prison into a cannabis oil production facility.
The former Claremont Prison can provide Ocean Grown with 77,000 square feet of space, plus the security infrastructure needed to safeguard a cannabis facility of this size and type (for example, barbed-wire fencing and security cameras).
The city of Coalinga has been experiencing economic hardships due to the global reduction in fossil fuel production and the closing of Claremont Prison. When California decided not to renew its contract with the prison in 2011, Coalinga spent much of its general fund on maintenance on the prison and unemployment benefits for former employees. Today, the city operates at a $3.3 million deficit.
“People are hurting – the oil industry is losing jobs,”
said Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Keough.
“We’re talking about 100 full-time jobs, and no dope in the streets.”
The city of Coalinga in California’s San Joaquin Valley is a story many industrial towns share. It began as a stop along a railroad line that brought coal to different parts of the state. Once combustion engines became the norm, Coalinga took advantage of its oil fields and an economy sprung up around it. In the 1990’s, Coalinga entered the prison business and became part of a $70 billion industry.
If Ocean Grown successfully leases the former prison from Coalinga, it would also be a symbolic acknowledgement of a shift in values. Coalinga residents are generally conservative and have relied on the prison–industrial complex for jobs. Leasing the old prison to a cannabis company is a sign that people are willing to put aside prejudiced values for the economic welfare of the community.
Coalinga plans to hold an open forum on March 30th to discuss the plans, and representatives from Ocean Grown will be present. In February, the city voted unanimously to allow for marijuana cultivation, distribution and delivery within its boundaries. Vocal opposition has come from local law enforcement and residents who did not feel they were properly informed prior to the February vote. The City Council plans to provide multiple opportunities for an open forum.
photo credit: FresnoBee