Damian Marley, youngest son of Jamaican reggae legend Bob Marley, is getting into the marijuana business in an unusual way: By going to prison.
The younger Marley, a reggae artist of his own right, who is also known as Jr. Gong and Gongzilla, is planning to convert a former 77,000-square-foot California State prison into a grow operation.
Marley, 38, recognizes the irony of the plan. In an interview with Billboard magazine, he said:
“Many people sacrificed so much for the herb over the years who got locked up. If this (venture) helps people and it’s used for medicinal purposes and inspires people, it’s a success.”
According to the Billboard report, Marley is partnering with Ocean Grown Extracts to buy the Claremont Custody Center in Coalinga, Calif., for $4.1 million. The business plans on bringing 100 jobs and an estimated $1 million in annual tax revenues to Coalinga, a cash-strapped Central Valley town about 200 miles south of San Francisco and 200 miles north of Los Angeles.
California voters will be voting this November on Proposition 64, a measure that would legalize marijuana for adult recreational use. Polling suggests that the measure will easily pass.
For Marley, this is a dream come true.
“I didn’t know it would happen this way. 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.”
This is not the first time someone has attempted to convert a prison into a marijuana business. In 2014, Nicholas Erker proposed turning a medium-security prison in Brush, Colo., into a grow operation. But the Brush City Council voted 4-3 against a proposal to drop a recreational marijuana moratorium.