Police object to California marijuana regulation revamp

A tag identifies the variety of marijuana plant on a cannabis farm.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Tuesday’s Kern County Board of Supervisors meeting will be one of those tough ones.

Ban marijuana cultivation and sales?

Or permit and regulate it?

Supervisors must balance their roles as leaders of Kern County's conservative communities with the need to deal with the realities of a new state law that legalizes recreational pot.

Do they go with their moral gut and say no to pot?

Many people in Kern County, which in November collectively voted against the state proposition that legalized recreational cannabis use, see marijuana as a dangerous threat to the moral makeup and safety of county residents.

Pastor Harry Marroquin of the Pentecostal Church of God in Bakersfield posted a video on the Kern County-Get Off the Pot Facebook page, which has been championed by Bakersfield City Councilwoman Jacquie Sullivan.

“The Bible is clear in reminding us to always be sober, minded and watchful,” Marroquin said. “The Kern County Board of Supervisors will soon decide whether or not to approve the sale of recreational marijuana in Kern County. I’m asking my brothers and sisters in Christ to join me in opposing that decision. A few extra bucks in tax revenue is not worth risking the future of our children and our grandchildren. As a faith-based community we need to come together as one voice. The time to take action is now.”

Pastor Oscar Anthony said marijuana will put Kern County families at risk.

“As a pastor I hold a responsibility to my neighbors, congregation and community to speak up when our community is at risk,” Anthony said. “Recreational marijuana sales and cultivation will make it easier for children to get access to the biggest gateway drug.”

Sullivan herself repeated the claim that by considering a permit-and-regulate approach to the issue, the County of Kern was putting children at risk – just for money.

It’s easy for politicians, argues Republican political observer Justin Salters, to grab the flag of morality and wave it when such issues come to town.

He calls it “virtue signaling.”

But Salters, who writes a weekly column for The Californian, has taken a stance in support of legalization and regulation.

There is a new reality in the state after Prop. 64, he said, and the county has to confront it.

Acting from a purely moral stance, he argues, isn’t going to stop black market marijuana from continuing to plague Kern County and its cities.

“The County of Kern undertook a massive EIR to look at various different scenarios. Let's come together with a fact-based approach,” Salters said. “You may oppose cannabis but you can still vote for regulation.”

Supervisor Mick Gleason said what makes decisions like this one tough is the need to balance the roles of community leader and elected official.

He’s been here before.

Leaders have to understand who they are, understand the facts on the table and search for the decision that will do the most good for the people they represent.

“You hope everybody will respect that the decision was made on a through examination. Everybody wants to be liked,” Gleason said. “Sometimes in order to do what you need to do, there’s going to be damage. There are people that are going to be hurt. That’s what you sign up for when you take this job.”

And sometimes, he said, decisions can cost elected officials friends and allies.

But Gleason said he doesn’t ultimately focus on “virtue signaling” but rather what he feels is best for his constituents.

Then he questions that decision.

“I constantly look at it and make sure what I did was best,” Gleason said.

James Burger can be reached at 661‑395-7415. Follow him on Twitter: @KernQuirks.

(4) comments

Stephen

Pastor Marroquin would do well to review early 20th Century history he apparently has either forgotten, doesn't understand or failed to study. Prohibition was dreamed up by the conservative Christian community who shamelessly played the morality card and, not surprisingly, while law abiding citizens were denied "adult beverages," bootlegging thrived and, along with it, organized crime was spawned. That alcohol consumption could be ended because of the beliefs of some in society was naive at best and it sure looks like we're doing the same thing here with pot. Lawmakers, including the feds, need to pay attention and get a clue.

shhanson

Here is the bottom line. We have decided as a state that recreational pot is legal. The best way in which to control the trade in pot is to accept it, and regulate it. CTurk3 is right. keeping legal marijuana illegal in Kern Country and Bakersfield City will not stop the use of pot, nor will it do anything productive in our community other than making otherwise law abiding citizens criminals. The worked out sooo well during prohibition.

And No, JPB1055, Marijuana is no more a "gateway" drug than alchohol, or cigarettes. It is not a "slippery slope" because the entire country supports legalization and regulation of pot. This is like making the argument that heroin addicts collective breathed air, so allowing breathing must be a slippery slope.

The states are going to start falling like dominos. Lets get in front of the parade and make pot commerce, and use, legitimate, safe, regulated and taxed in our community. Bring this shadow economy into the light.

CTurk3

So, let me get this straight. I can legally obtain, possess and use “recreational marijuana” in Bakersfield and Kern County., but the city and maybe the county will ban the sale of it in Kern County/Bakersfield. Do you really think, that will stop individuals from purchasing the product from another city/county and bringing it back into Bakersfield/Kern County and using it? Before I was 21, if I wanted beer to drink, I always found a way to obtain it and the same is true about marijuana. While I was not a proponent of the “legalization” of marijuana and voted against it, I am a “realist”, if it can be used legally, it will be used and the city/county should be in the position to regulate the sale and gain some benefit from sales tax.

Jpb1055

There is no option but to reject it. Common sense people.. Slippery slope and pot is a gateway drug.

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