Cannabis producers will be allowed to grow the leafy drug in Arvin next year.
Despite pushback from Arvin residents and others from throughout Kern County, the Arvin City Council unanimously approved an ordinance allowing for the indoor cultivation of recreational and medical marijuana, with Councilman Jess Ortiz absent.
Arvin is now the second city in Kern County to allow some kind of cultivation; California City approved an ordinance last year that pertains only to medical marijuana cultivation. Bakersfield and Kern County have both banned commercial pot activity.
“What we’re doing here tonight is making sure we’re moving forward with this new industry and taking control of cannabis within our city,” said Mayor Jose Gurrola. “This ordinance sends a message that rather than put our heads in the sand and hope that everything turns out okay, we’re taking proactive steps to put cannabis in the city’s control, keep it out of our kids’ hands and making sure the city recuperates its costs in terms of regulating this industry.”
The council passed the ordinance as the deadline to get something approved is fast approaching. All cities across the state must have a plan in place addressing cannabis by the end of the year because starting in January, the state will begin issuing permits to manufacturers, dispensaries and other businesses following the passage of Proposition 64 last November.
The Nov. 21 meeting was the last regular meeting of the Arvin City Council, and therefore the last chance to get an ordinance passed.
Arvin's ordinance allows for a maximum grow of 1,350,000 square feet at a time. Businesses and their employees will be required to apply yearly for permits in order to legally operate. All employees would need to be 21 and over.
While the ordinance would allow growers to sell their product to distributors, dispensaries and other retail marijuana sales are still banned in the city. Essentially, cannabis would be grown in Arvin but sold to other markets in places such as Los Angeles or San Francisco.
In spite of that, many residents still said they opposed the ordinance.
“You are faced with a decision about the cannabis, and I implore all of you to consider it seriously,” said Ruth Harris. “I am not against medical marijuana; I believe it has medicinal purposes. However, I don’t believe that the City of Arvin is the place for the cultivation.”
A few speakers expressed their approval for the direction that city is taking with its ordinance.
“I’ve got to commend the mayor and the City Council for being aggressive,” said Blake Chavez. “This isn’t the Stone Age anymore; this is the present. I appreciate that you understand that you need to stay in touch with the times. It’s the 21st Century – thanks for bringing us into it.”
While the ordinance has passed, council members said they still have some environment and safety concerns regarding the environment and safety, although the council didn’t go into details at the meeting.
Mayor Pro Tem Jazmin Robles said she hopes the public will work with the city to make the ordinance better.
“If we do this right, it will be good for our city, but I want you to help us do it right,” she said. ”Read the ordinance and tell us what we need to add. I think that if we do this correctly, this will bring positive changes to our city.”