GREEN Rush!

Damian Mar­ley Con­verts Cal­i­for­nia Prison Into Mar­i­juana Farm

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - De­natem­r­ta­iain­n­meMnt@arl­ge­leyan­erjm.com

REG­GAE MU­SIC has long been one of the world gen­res that has been closely as­so­ci­ated with the Rasta­far­ian re­li­gion, ad­vo­cat­ing for the use of mar­i­juana as some­thing ben­e­fi­cial to health and also as a sa­cred sacra­ment.

The Mar­ley fam­ily, in par­tic­u­lar, has un­der­taken in­ter­na­tional ven­tures, us­ing their no­to­ri­ety to ad­vance the mar­i­juana in­dus­try in states that have, to vary­ing de­grees, re­laxed their views on the use of the plant and its ex­tracts for recre­ational or medic­i­nal use.

“Damian Mar­ley, along with busi­ness part­ner Ocean Grown Ex­tracts, has cre­ated a po­etic metaphor and mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar busi­ness model in one,” wrote Andy Gensler in a Bill­board ex­clu­sive pub­lished on Oc­to­ber 3.

“Many peo­ple sac­ri­ficed so much for the herb over the years who got locked up,” said Mar­ley in the ex­clu­sive in­ter­view, not­ing the po­etic jus­tice of turn­ing a prison that once housed non-vi­o­lent drug of­fend­ers into a cannabis-cul­ti­va­tion fa­cil­ity.

The reg­gae star is con­vert­ing a former 77,000 square-foot Cal­i­for­nia State prison into a cannabis grow space that will be used to cul­ti­vate med­i­cal mar­i­juana for state dis­pen­saries.

Gensler writes that with their pur­chase of the Clare­mont Cus­tody Cen­ter in Coalinga, Cal­i­for­nia, for US$4.1 mil­lion, Mar­ley and his part­ners in­stantly re­lieved the eco­nom­i­cally chal­lenged Cen­tral Val­ley town of its roughly $3.3 mil­lion debt. The ven­ture will also gen­er­ate 100 jobs in an eco­nom­i­cally stag­nant re­gion plagued by an on­go­ing his­toric drought and de­scend­ing oil prices, both of which have dam­aged the re­gion’s tra­di­tional farm­ing and oil in­dus­tries, and will gen­er­ate an es­ti­mated mil­lion dol­lars in an­nual tax rev­enues for Coalinga. Mar­ley and his part­ners are pre­pared for the “green rush” should Cal­i­for­nia’s Propo­si­tion 64, which would le­galise cannabis for adult recre­ational use, pass in Novem­ber as polls seem to in­di­cate. This news fol­lows a two-weekold re­port of the youngest son of Bob Mar­ley in part­ner­ship with Colorado-based TruCannabis, also open Stony Hill, a 3,000-square-foot dis­pen­sary in down­town Den­ver, Colorado, along with a 30,000square-foot grow space.

Mar­ley helped de­velop and test the dis­pen­sary’s name­sake and sig­na­ture, Stony Hill, which is also the name of his fourth al­bum and has a spe­cial place in the artiste’s life.

“Stony Hill is a place in Ja­maica I grew up, so it has a lot of sig­nif­i­cance,” Mar­ley said.

“I didn’t know in my life­time I’d be open­ing a dis­pen­sary,” Mar­ley told Bill­board in a Sep­tem­ber 16 ex­clu­sive in­ter­view (about the open­ing of the dis­pen­sary). “We’ve al­ways been ad­vo­cates of le­gal­is­ing mar­i­juana, and we al­ways had the hope in our life­time that we’d be in­volved in some­thing like this, but I didn’t pre­dict this would hap­pen.”

“I didn’t know it would hap­pen this way,” said Marle, when asked if he had con­sid­ered weed’s le­gal­i­sa­tion to be pos­si­ble in his life­time.

“This was def­i­nitely some­thing we were work­ing to­wards for a long time, be­fore I was even born. There was Peter Tosh’s Le­galise 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.”

DAMIAN ‘JR GONG’ MAR­LEY

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