Victory For Medical Marijuana Storefronts

A big victory for those who support medicinal marijuana storefronts. That group has succeeded in blocking an ordinance that banned the cooperatives. County elections Wednesday verified that Kern County Citizens for Patients Rights has collected the 17,000 plus verified signatures to block the ban. The Kern County supervisors passed an ordinance restricting medicinal marijuana sales on August 9, and creating a limit of twelve plants that can be grown on a piece of property, along with a limit of twelve on the number of plants that can be grown on a piece of property.

Opponents immediately filed a lawsuit, which is pending, and began collecting signatures, arguing that under California’s Compassionate Use act, medical marijuana patients can grow posses and use marijuana, meaning this ordinance would violate state law. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to have a county by county, city by city regulation,” said attorney Philip Ganong, who’s been working on the appeal. “It’s tough on everybody, it’s tough on the cities, the counties, the attornies, the patients; most importantly the patients.”

To break it down, last month the county supervisors approved two ordinances. The first, to extend the moratorium on prohibiting the opening of new dispensaries for another year. Second, they made it illegal to operate medical marijuana storefronts,. mobile facilities, and delivery service in unincorporated county areas. It is also illegal to sell or distribute medical marijuana edibles, and outdoor marijuana grows have to be fewer than 99 plants.
“They’ve never addressed our issues about how this ordinance promotes crime and puts money into the black market and helps to subsidize the criminal element and drug trafficking organizations,” Ganong said. “They’ve never responded to that. And if they can’t respond to a logical argument, then where does that leave you in government? Looks more like Washington D.C. than Kern County.”

Supervisor Ray Watson said in a statement that because there could potentially be lawsuits involved, county officials can’t comment on the issue until they are briefed by legal counsel, and that won’t happen until their meeting on Tuesday. There is also talk of taking action against Sheriff Donny Youngblood, who wasn’t available for comment. “There may be a recall petition circulated,” Ganong said. “There’s talk about recalling the sheriff because of his pro-federal, anti-California stance. He’s clearly more interested in federal government than he is in state government rights.

That’s distressing to a lot of people that believe in their state and believe in their personal rights.” The supervisors can vote to repeal their own ordinance, vote to hold a special election or place it on the June primary ballot next year. County elections said the last time they held a special election in 2009 , it cost the county more than $1 million.

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