A recent split vote from the County Planning Commission voted to permit and regulate commercial marijuana in Kern County. The recommendation was sent to the Board of Supervisors for consideration. As a former County civil servant I wanted to share some observations.

On Sept. 28, the Alaska Dispatch News reported that Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew, who is against the legalization of cannabis, remarked, “I’d fire an officer for violating their oath." Chief Mew said officers pledge their allegiance to local, state and federal laws when they take their oath.

His remarks reminded me of my first job as a planner for Kern County. The county clerk administered the Oath of Allegiance something to the effect: “I will support and defend the Constitution of the U.S. and the Constitution of the State of California against all…”

Why is this important for land-use civil servants, particularly those who are licensed (attorneys, engineers) or certified (planners)? Primarily because cannabis hasn’t budged from Schedule I, the DEA’s most serious of illegal substances like heroin, LDS and peyote.

This issue is further compounded by a Feb. 23 NPR article that reported the U.S. Justice Department may step up enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that have voted to legalize its use. The California Lawyer (Oct./Nov. 2017) issue posed this question: Will attorneys (e.g., civil servants — the example is mine) face professional consequences for choosing to follow state, rather than federal, marijuana laws? The short answer — no one knows.

— Vince Zaragoza, Bakersfield