Justice

This Former Prison Was Purchased by a Marijuana Company

July 17th 2016

By:
Kyle Jaeger

A vacant prison in California is about to get a major renovation. Last week, the Coalinga City Council approved the sale of what used to be the Claremont Custody Center to a company that specializes in marijuana extracts.

marijuana-plant

The move symbolizes the transformative effect marijuana advocates say legalization will have on both the prison population and the economy.

"It’s like the Grateful Dead said: ‘What a long, strange trip it’s been,'" Coalinga Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Keough told The Fresno Bee. "We listened to the citizens and created a package that was reflective of our population."

Claremont Correctional Center

The $4.1 million purchase is a win-win situation for the central California city. Not only is Coalinga recouping the money it spent constructing the prison, putting the city back in the black, but the transformation also has the potential to spur economic growth. Ocean Grown Extracts, the company that bought the prison, will now be a source of jobs and tax revenue for Coalinga.

"On a symbolic level, there’s a lot of power in the idea of a former prison being turned into a marijuana cultivation and processing facility," Michael Green, the president of the Fresno Cannabis Association, told ATTN:. "For me, as a patient advocate, the symbolism has more to do with where the prison is than the fact that it was a prison. This is the first break in Fresno County in what has been a very zero-tolerance approach [to medical marijuana] in the central valley for years and years and years."

There are plenty of reasons that a majority of Americans support marijuana legalization, but one particularly compelling argument concerns the economic advantages. A recent report from New Frontier and ArcView Market Research determined that the legal marijuana market will grow to $7.1 billion nationwide in 2016. And because legalization is typically preceded by decriminalization, states that legalize are also saving money by reducing costs associated with marijuana law enforcement, according to the ACLU.

marijuana enforcement

The irony that a facility once used to house criminals (including, no doubt, marijuana offenders) will now be occupied by a company that grows, cultivates, and sells marijuana products is a testament to the degradation of a nearly 50-year-old conflict known as the war on drugs.

RELATED: What Happens When You Decriminalize Marijuana