I was following up on the Oakland Mega-Grow situation, reading the discourse between the big money players and the activist and cultivation communities. It would seem that somewhere along the line a big point was missed. In the press, Harborside representatives were quoted seemingly defending the plight of the small grower and the “pioneers” of the movement. But in reading deeper it seems as if the discourse with Jeff Wilcox stems from a proposed partnership gone bad.
The East bay Express reports:
The entrepreneur in him looked at the growing medical cannabis industry and, after consulting with Harborside founder Stephen DeAngelo, concluded a large-scale indoor cannabis farm was an opportunity.
What this means if that before Wilcox brought forth his 59 pound a day plan that threatens the livelihood of the independent growers and the fabric of the current industry, Harborside was working on developing this strategy with Wilcox. Strange that as that relationship deteriorated, Steve Deangelo began to recall the many mom and pop growers and producers that are the backbone of his organization.
Stevie-D is quoted in the LA Times saying:
“Any new system that is created needs to have a role for these pioneers,” he said. “It’s not the role of government to decide the winners and losers in the marketplace.”
But isn’t it the government who decided who the winners and losers have been in Oakland since the initial regulation in 2005? Does the fact that Mr. Wilcox is moving this forward and not Harborside per say, bring a sense of “Being for it before you were against it” and now that there are other quicker dogs in the race that all of the sudden this compassion and nostalgia for the little guy is paramount? Don’t get me wrong. I do not want to seem to hate the player but you can’t have it both ways. I have held back on many criticisms of the flagrant abuse of stature and often downright arrogance that has been purveyed. But do us a favor. Quit insulting our collective intelligence.
The East Bay Express Reports:
As traditional market forces begin to exert themselves on the once-marginalized illicit drug, a spectrum of reformers has emerged, from pragmatic capitalists on one end, to idealistic, longtime radicals on another. This spread is evident in the once-close relationship between Wilcox and DeAngelo, who are now estranged. The two worked together for months devising a plan for large commercial grows in Oakland, but had a falling out over control of the facility and have begun airing their differences in public.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to vertically integrate, produce the products you retail to patients, and increase the margins for your $21 million dollar organization. But you can’t go slumming with the little guys who you want to integrate out when a bigger fish comes into the pond.
I think the entire mega-production deal is bullshit. The current system of independent collective members/growers that work on small batch products and hone their crafts is awesome. It would be great if the city decided they would license the infrastructure that is already in Oakland rather than create 4 new deep pocket organizations to try to out-produce and outcompete with these small farmer. But alas, in favor of creating the “Mcdonald’s of Marijuana” an effort is being made to undermine the current system.
Also reported in the Express:
DeAngelo said he can’t say for sure why the two parted ways late last year. Wilcox has said that DeAngelo wanted too much control over the enterprise, while he wants to allow multitudes to come in and work his space for a fee. “I was, like, ‘No, no, no this is a regional thing,'” Wilcox said.
DeAngelo’s push for control of cultivation at Wilcox’s site came from two assumptions which are now to be issues of debate. The first one was that state law requires grows to be associated with specific patients in collectives or cooperatives.
Sure…Wilcox is a prick. But which is worse- the prick- or the person who gave the prick the idea, lost their seat at the table, and then chose to ridicule the prick in the name of justice an morality? I suppose that is for the community at large to decide. I just do not see how one can have it both ways. Do you want to do a mega-grow to provide your own medicine or do you want the hundreds of small organizations currently competing for your business to continue to have those entrepreneurial dreams come true and have the independence to make this movement what it is…unique…?
I do not think that what people want in this movement is a lack of competition and behemoth organizations that dictate the market. There is enough of that in the world. There is enough of that in the dispensing game already. For the “World’s Largest Marijuana Retailer” to want to also own the “World’s Largest Cannabis Cultivation Site” is a bit over the top IMO. Look…Coca Cola does not own all of the stores it distributes to and Safeway does not own all of the products they produce. I just do not get the goal. Is it to provide medicine to patients or to take over the world, Pinky?
Maybe their people could call my people and straighten me out on this one….