The ordinance banning all medical marijuana dispensaries in Kern County was supposed to take effect on Friday. But County officials announced that they received a referendum petition on Thursday, pleading to end the ordinance. So that means pot dispensaries opened before Aug. 24, 2010, will stay open until the county registrar of voters decides if the petition is valid.
The petition presented by dozens of marijuana proponents on Thursday contained thousands and thousands of signatures from supporters – 26,335 signatures, to be exact. Robert Wade, the director of Cannibal’s Collective, included his name in the petition. “We had volunteers by the droves, we had people that were employees that were out there volunteering their time, we had professional signature gatherers,” Wade said.
The proponents only needed to turn in a little more than 17,000. “It’s not as if we barely got it. We got it way over 10,000 over what we needed almost,” said Wade. The county has 30 business days to validate all the names. If there are not enough valid signatures, then the petition has no force and effect, and that means the ban will be effective immediately.
That would be bad news for Wade and his business. “The collective would close and I would let six people out, six people would be out of work,” Wade said. But, if the petition is found to be sufficient, the board of supervisors will basically have two options.
Kern County Counsel Theresa Goldner explained, “(The board of supervisors) can either decide to repeal the ordinance or if it doesn’t want the repeal the ordinance it can decide whether to put it to a vote of the electorate, meaning it could go to a vote at a special election or it could go to a vote at the next general county election which would be June 5, 2012.”
Medical marijuana proponents would not have gotten this far, Wade believes, without the support of the community. “It was just an amazing thing to see just how many people came and mobilized,” said Wade. “We have the eyes of California and the cannabis world on us and they’re all there to help us and really I have no concerns.” So now it’s a countdown, waiting to see if the proponent’s signatures scream loud enough for the County to hear their voices.
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