In this file photo, a customer walks into a marijuana dispensary at 1810 North Chester Ave. 

Following the decision by the Kern County Board of Supervisors to deny all appeals of medical cannabis dispensaries hoping to stay open past May 24, a coordinated effort is underway to ensure the businesses close as ordered.

However, as county officials seek to shut down the dispensaries, at least some of them are planning to bring a claim against the county, which could have the effect of delaying the mandatory closure date set by Kern supervisors.

The upcoming showdown over cannabis sales will pit local businesses with a long history of operating under difficult circumstances against county departments tasked with carrying out the will of the supervisors.

For its part, the county plans to move forward with plans to close down the dispensaries even in the face of pushback.

“I think that this industry has shown that they don’t respect the law,” said Kern County Planning and Natural Resources Director Lorelei Oviatt. “Therefore, the county will continue to do what we do, which is use our law enforcement.”

She said dispensaries owners that remained open past their closure date could risk arrest, and their inventory could be confiscated.

Kern County Sheriff’s Office will be involved in enforcement of the closures, she said, potentially along with the Bureau of Cannabis Control, a state agency with representatives in Kern County.

“At the end of the day, (the dispensaries) are on notice to close,” Oviatt said. “There are criminal penalties that can be brought.”

So far, three dispensaries in metro Bakersfield and three in Rosamond have been ordered to close, with 23 more slated for closure May 24.

Supervisors voted to ban all marijuana sales in the county in late 2017, but a group of around 30 dispensaries were allowed to remain open for a year to recoup costs associated with investments they had made in their businesses.

The county pushed back the date for another six months after 18 of the dispensaries filed an appeal, saying they needed more time to remain open.

The appeals ultimately failed in a series of hearings before the supervisors in February and March of this year.

Supervisors were not swayed by the arguments brought forward by the dispensaries saying they were out up to hundreds of thousands of dollars that they had put into their businesses.

In many cases, dispensaries could not prove the costs they said they had incurred, and some of the costs they included took place after the ban came into effect, which the county said was disqualifying.

The decision left many dispensaries feeling like they had been wronged.

“I think it was more of a political appeasement than a ruling on the merits,” local attorney Phil Ganong said of the supervisors’ decision to deny the appeals of the dispensaries.

Ganong represents four dispensaries that filed appeals, and he said three of those dispensaries planned to file claims against the county and potentially a lawsuit.

In the event of a lawsuit, Ganong said a judge could issue an injunction on the county’s ban while the case is being considered. That could have the effect of buying the dispensaries more time.

“A stay order could be issued by the court to keep the harm from happening to the businesses while they are pursuing their claim,” Ganong said. “I think that would be a likely approach.”

But a judge would only issue an injunction if he or she deemed it in the best interest of the people, not a guarantee in cases such as this, Oviatt countered.

“Injunctions are not automatic,” she said. “(The dispensaries) have to make their case about why it’s in the public’s best interest why they not close, rather than our finding that it’s in the public’s best interest that they close.”

Sam Morgen can be reached at 661-395-7415. Follow him on Twitter: @smorgenTBC.

(7) comments

Fram Smith

RAMUDA, by his own admission, lives out of the area, and is payed to make comments that have no based in fact. We locals just ignore him as we converse about facts; and issues like replacing our current Board of Supervisors. Don't respond to payed Trolls; don't talk to strangers.


The most frustrating part about those 'weed causes psychosis' studies is that it is all done by post-hoc analysis, and fails to take into account that correlation is not causation. It is known that folks with psychosis-type disorders commonly use tobacco and marijuana as a self-medicating way to calm the, they jump from that, to saying the MJ 'causes' it.

Boogerface Nutter

The National Academy of Medicine. I'm a pretty well-read old guy and I've never heard of this group. Did they just drop in and discover something called know, that stuff some of us, who have maintained good jobs, lifestyles and family lives for, oooooohhhh, 50 years since first smoking it have used?
Sounds like it. Perhaps they should rule on the sound of power-generating windmills causing cancer or something equally as silly.
At this point in our society, I doubt there are many people who have not tried pot, used it for medical purposes (it really does work for some thing) and maybe enjoy it for sleep and relaxation.
I'm sure you can create a study that will find that anything causes psychological problems for some tiny group in the world. Trying to label cannabis as the evil weed? That bird has flown.
Perhaps Kern County should try joining the real world. It's a step in the right direction.


Obviously, as some comments herein are read, the following Alex Berenson observations will become more apparent . . . and relevant . . .
'After an exhaustive review, the National Academy of Medicine found in 2017 that "cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk." Also that “regular cannabis use is likely to increase the risk for developing social anxiety disorder.” '
"Even cannabis advocates, like Rob Kampia, the co-founder of the Marijuana Policy Project, acknowledge that they have always viewed medical marijuana laws primarily as a way to protect recreational users."

Boogerface Nutter

Relevance requires evidence. Making a statement is not proof. Citing case studies is much more relevant.
Anyone can state anything.


I never fail to see the end of the basic stupidity of the Supervisors.
Now we will have an expensive law suit, which will cost us taxpayers
a lot of money. And the marijuana people will win.The supes are masters
of being on the wrong side of any aspect of current public opinion.


Kern County, where Nazis are welcome, but weed is not.

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