"The DEA came in and said, 'We don't care what the sheriff said,'" said Gieringer, the state director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "We have no assurance of good DEA behavior. There a lot of uncertainties and questions and risks."
The Oakland ordinance's loudest opponents have been the medical marijuana activists, dispensary operators and midsized growers in the city. After risking federal prosecution for years to supply the city's dispensaries, they say, they now face extinction.
"I can see a place for large farmers but I also see a place for small gardeners," said Robert Raich, a California attorney in the cannabis industry. "I see a place for Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors, but there's also a place for brewpubs. What the city council members want to do is eliminate the brewpubs."
Oakland has long been a pioneer in the marijuana trade: It become the first American city to license medical marijuana dispensaries and to make pot-related crimes the lowest police priority.
Cannabis cultivation is widespread in the city and wholesale marijuana sales totaled an estimated $28 million last year, according to a city staff report.