Damian Marley Converts California Prison to Open Medicinal Marijuana Farm

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Damian Marley (Republic Records/Universal Music Group promo)
Damian Marley (Republic Records/Universal Music Group promo)

Damian Marley is launching a multi-million dollar medicinal marijuana business and turning the policing of the herb on its head.

The musician announced plans Monday to buy out a California prison and put a dispensary in its place. In an interview with Billboard, Marley revealed he and partnering company Ocean Grown Extracts paid $4.1 million to convert Claremont Custody Center.

Marley and Ocean Grown’s hefty purchase price of the property not only relieves the city of its $3.3 million debt, but it will create 100 jobs for residents.

“Many people sacrificed so much for the herb over the years who got locked up,” Marley told the magazine. “If this [venture] helps people and it’s used for medicinal purposes and inspires people, it’s a success.”

The 77,000-square-foot prison in Coalinga, California will house the cannabis farm. The penitentiary’s inmates included prisoners who committed non-violent drug offenses.

Work on the farm will begin in the coming weeks. The facility will start oil extract production in 60 days. January 2017 is when the first harvest occurs. Californians will vote on adult recreational use for the herb in November.

At its start, the venture evolved from cannabis surrounding all aspects of Marley’s life. The singer is the youngest son of reggae legend Bob Marley.

“Cannabis is something that’s around Damian every day with friends, family and with his Rastafarian faith,” the singer’s manager Dan Dalton said. “We’ve watched people who have sacrificed their lives for it. That injustice has motivated us to be advocates as well as knowing that there are healing properties in cannabis.”

Though Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2012, a study revealed an increase in arrest rates for Black youth by 58 percent. Comparatively, arrests for white youth dropped by 8 percent.

Still, Billboard reported Marley launched Stoney Hill dispensary in Denver Sept. 22. He opened the 3,000-square-foot space in partnership with Colorado-based TruCannabis.

Both dispensaries are unique in that neither space uses licensing deals. Marley has personally invested in Ocean Grown and TruCannabis, the former of which has familial ties to his manager.

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