Damian Marley Converts California Prison Into Medical Marijuana Business

By McCarton Ackerman 10/07/16

The new business will create 100 jobs and is estimated to generate $1 million in annual tax revenues.

Damian Marley Converts California Prison Into Medical Marijuana Business
Photo via YouTube

In a true instance of poetic justice, the son of Bob Marley is turning a California prison that once housed non-violent drug offenders into the cannabis cultivation facility for his new weed business.

Damian Marley, 38, has teamed up with Ocean Grown Extracts to create medical marijuana for state dispensaries. Their operation will take place at the Claremont Custody Center in Coalinga, California. The first oil extracts will be produced at the facility within 60 days and the first crop will be harvested by January, according to Billboard

Marley also announced the launch of Speak Life, a strain of cannabis he created with Ocean Grown. "Many people sacrificed so much for the herb over the years who got locked up," said Marley. "If this [venture] helps people and it's used for medicinal purposes and inspires people, it's a success."

So far, the medical marijuana venture has been a huge boost for the Central Valley town. By purchasing the prison for $4.1 million, Coalinga was instantaneously relieved of its $3.3 million debt. The new business will also create 100 jobs and is estimated to generate $1 million in annual tax revenues.

It’s one of several marijuana-related business ventures that Marley has recently undertaken. Two weeks ago, he officially partnered with Tru Cannabis to launch a 3,000 square foot dispensary in downtown Denver called Stony Hill, as well as a 30,000 square foot grow space. Stony Hill is the neighborhood in Jamaica where Marley grew up. Fittingly, the dispensary is right next to Mile High Stadium, home of the Denver Broncos.

Marley is also tying his weed businesses in with his music. Stony Hill is also the name of his upcoming album set to be released in January, while "Speak Life" is one of the tracks on the album. For Marley, the opportunity to be a part of a legal cannabis market was at one point unfathomable to him.

"I didn't know it would happen this way," Marley told Billboard. "This was definitely something we were working towards for a long time, before I was even born. There was Peter Tosh's 'Legalize It' and songs like that — this is something our culture has been working towards. I was optimistic that it would one day be legal — and now it is here."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.