Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, the 38-year-old musician and youngest son of reggae legend Bob Marley, is living up to one of his father’s other most notable passions: cannabis.
Marley has partnered with Ocean Grown Extract in a plan to covert a 77,000 square foot former California state prison in Coalinga into a cannabis farm. The former prison site, once home to many non-violent drug offenders, will be growing medical marijuana for the state’s dispensaries.
"Many people sacrificed so much for the herb over the years who got locked up," Marley told Billboard. "If this [venture] helps people and it's used for medicinal purposes and inspires people, it's a success.”
Not only is the business venture somewhat of a vindication for those incarcerated on drug charges, but it’s also helping to revamp the Central Valley town, which was more than $3 million in debt. Marley and Ocean Grown Extract purchased the facility for $4.1 million, generating a million dollars annually in taxes for the town, and it will also create about 100 jobs in the region as well.
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The new business began "in a very organic way," Dan Dalton, Marley's longtime manager told Billboard. "Cannabis is something that's around Damian every day with friends, family and with his Rastafarian faith. 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."
And the move also comes in anticipation of California ballot measure Proposition 64, which would legalize recreational cannabis in the state if it passes next month.
Marley recently opened a dispensary in Denver named Stony Hill. Colorado became the first state to legally sell recreational marijuana in 2014, and since then it’s seen an economic boom. Along with California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will be voting on recreational marijuana laws this November as well.
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