Ashland, OR - At a press conference in this California-Oregon border town, Western governors announced a tri-state compact, the Prisons Going to Pot Initiative, transforming state correctional facilities into marijuana cultivation and processing centers. The effort was led by California Governor Jerry Brown, who credits the idea of a regional marijuana conglomerate to "the thoughtful suggestions of hundreds of California citizens concerned about our state's future."
An adviser to Governor Brown said "It's brilliant, really. During the height of the financial crisis, prisoner rights activists lobbied for the closure of state prisons to save millions of dollars. Marijuana activists called for legalization and taxation to generate revenue. Governor Brown combines the best of both concepts - repurposing these prisons as high tech grow centers, with inmates in charge of growing and processing product."
At Washington State's McNeil Island Corrections Center, once slated for closure, a proposed grow operation is projected to bring in 17 million dollars of revenue monthly, said Washington Governor Christine Gregoire.
"I call this Medicinal Marijuana Plus, because "med-mar" will improve the physical and mental health of Washington residents and the financial health of the state. To transform this from a correctional center to a cost center we will use the skills and experience of the inmates to produce quality product for medicinal marijuana patients and pre-patients.
"The prison shops will be renovated and inmates trained to assemble the specialized lighting, hydroponic and ventilation equipment needed for high quality product. These guys will leave here with a high quality education."
Transforming a Population
Governor Brown sees the Prisons Going to Pot initiative as key to providing new meaning and value the lives of the inmates. "In this emerging industry this new industry, rap sheets become resumes! With the cultivation expertise of the Mexican Mafia, the brand management of the Hells Angels and the distribution channels of smaller gangs, we have a winning combination. These men will also be giving back to the community by providing for the critical medicinal marijuana needs of hundreds of thousands of patients on the West Coast that suffer from such devastating afflictions as glaucoma, PMS, pre-Glaucoma, pre-PMS, hangovers, and heat rash."
Not Everyone is On the Bus
Most gang leaders are receptive to the plan and have signed non-compete agreements. However, racist gangs have not shown interest. "Those guys are just not into pot, but maybe they should be," said Oregon Governor Dr. John Kitzhaber, who received a medical degree from the Oregon Health & Science University in the 1970s.
"I'd write a bud prescription for any of those guys anytime. As they say in the dispensing community, the only difference between an active racist gang member and a dropout is 10 grams of Mexican-grown, Southern Oregon Bud."
Governor Gregoire scoffed at the idea. "I'll put five grams of our state's Methow Medicinal up against ten grams of SOB any day, Governor Kitzhaber. Perhaps as a wager in next season's Washington Huskies - Oregon Ducks game?"
The Transformation Begins
Projects are scheduled to begin at California's San Quentin prison, Washington State's McNeil Island Correctional Center and the Oregon State Penitentiary in February 2012. These prisons, each over 100 years old, will require significant renovation before they are used as grow centers. The expected price of renovation at each prison will exceed $200 million.
"Maintenance of these prisons has been neglected for decades," said Governor Gregoire. "No marijuana plant should be subjected to these conditions."