The rest of California lights up a new multibillion-dollar recreational pot industry on Jan. 1, but in Bakersfield and most of Kern County, the historic occasion is nothing less than Reefer Madness.

While some are calling legalization the new gold rush, others are treating it like a harlot in the front pew. But come Monday, recreational marijuana sales will come out of the darkness, bringing the largely underground economy into the light.

The state this week will begin issuing permits for activities related to recreational pot, including cultivation, manufacturing, distribution and sale. Cities and counties had the option to embrace or reject, and some cities around the state embraced the opportunity. Governing bodies in the southern San Joaquin Valley, however, generally chose to treat weed as they've always treated weed. 

The Bakersfield City Council and the Kern County Board of Supervisors voted to ban all commercial cannabis activity, and so did most the rest of the communities in outlying areas.

David Abbasi, of a Central Valley marijuana advocacy group, told the Board of Supervisors in October that many of the claims by opponents of marijuana are inaccurate and outdated and that the county needs to remember it has been down this road before.

"We are ready to respond with a legal challenge" to the ban on commercial pot, he said.

But others argued that marijuana use is detrimental to individuals and families.

Canyon Hills Assembly of God Pastor Wendell Vinson argued at the same meeting that the county shouldn't be involved in any way in legitimizing commercial cannabis.

"This is about one thing, whether the county will get involved in the pot business," he said "It's a sleazy business."

Even as the city and the county adopt a hands-off approach, cannabis financial analysis firm GreenWave Advisors predicts the legal market could be worth $5.1 billion in 2018, and much more in subsequent years.

Concerns are being raised about whether young people will start using more marijuana thanks to increased visibility. And local law enforcement agencies are hammering home the message that pot smoking and driving don't mix.

"While alcohol-impaired driving remains the most serious problem on our roadways, the percentage of drivers in fatal crashes with other impairing substances in their system keeps rising," the Bakersfield Police Department said in a news release last week.

"Faced with more instances of DUID — Driving Under the Influence of Drugs — state and local officials are reiterating the message that 'DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.'"

The message takes on increased importance, the BPD said, as the state begins licensing commercial non-medical marijuana sales under provisions of Proposition 64.

Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.

(10) comments

biloobarbar

Wow! What a Great Article Thanks Man! Great work! Thats an ideal content that i have ever seen on internet
Different Type of Weed

DogPark

One of the arguments against cannabis use that I hear over and over is the long term effects on health, both mental and physical are undetermined. I say look at Willie Nelson, the greatest advocate of this plant. He is out there touring at 84 years old, living the life of someone half his age. The hysteria from the righteous right is nauseating.

Amberlynne710

It just shows how stupid ya'll can be 😂 just throwing money away because it's a "sleazy" business... Last time I checked cops are more sleazy than selling pot. Juuuuust sayin..

MaynardG

"But others argued that marijuana use is detrimental to individuals and families."
So grab a cold 12 pack, sit down, watch the game and shut-up. Just beautiful.
The county and city bleed money from program cuts. Law enforcement cannot afford to hire officers or purchase equipment. other emergency services are in the same situation. Our schools suffer, community projects suffer. In the meantime, millions of dollars in potential county and city revenues will be spent outside of Kern County.
Users of the devil weed are still going to use the devil weed. Hit the pot shop on my next trip to LA. Or maybe have my cousin in Fresno bring me some at our next family get together. Heck, I'll gather my friends and we'll have a road trip (get it) to score some weed.
I fail to see the logic of our city and county administrators.

Bill Deaver

California City in East Kern is permitting marijuana...

byebyeCA

Weather it be alcohol, cannabis, or any other drug society doesn't need any of it. As time moves on America will see a big change in its citizens.

Jimmy cracker

This is the second article referencing a pastor giving his opinion..... when did church and state become one again??? I am a Christian but can care less what a pastor says about politics or belief in things like this. If personal opinion's count then my personal opinion is that religious leaders stay in the church where people come for spiritual support.... not giving personal opinions to county regulators... stay I'm your swim lane

Michael Milburn

The specter of carnage on the road following cannabis legalization is propaganda from prohibitionists. Cannabis is not being invented, just legalized--people have been driving stoned for decades. No one should drive impaired, but actual impairment should be measured, and the level of impairment from cannabis that is criminalized should be the same as the level of impairment for the .08 blood alcohol level. How to measure impairment? Read on!

I have developed a new public health app that measures actual impairment--it is called DRUID (an acronym for “DRiving Under the Influence of Drugs”) available now in the App Store and in Google Play. DRUID measures reaction time, decision making, hand-eye coordination, time estimation and balance, and then statistically integrates hundreds of data points into an overall impairment score. DRUID takes just 2 minutes.

Our website is www.druidapp.com

DRUID allows cannabis users (or others who drink alcohol, use prescription drugs, etc.) to self-assess their own level of impairment and (hopefully) decide against driving if they are impaired. Prior to DRUID, there was no way for an individual to accurately assess their own level of impairment. DRUID also demonstrates that it is feasible to measure impairment reliably by the roadside, not just exposure to a drug. It could also be a way for cannabis users who have developed tolerance to show they are unimpaired.

DRUID was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered: http://www.npr.org/2017/01/25/511595978/can-sobriety-tests-weed-out-drivers-whove-smoked-too-much-weed

Also on television: http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2017/02/28/science-lags-behind-marijuana-impairment-testing/

And this past December on Spokane Public Radio: http://nwpr.org/post/progress-made-marijuana-intoxication-measurement-tool-0

After obtaining my Ph.D. at Harvard, I have been a professor of psychology at UMass/Boston for the past 40 years, specializing in research methods, measurement and statistics.

Michael Milburn, Professor
Department of Psychology
UMass/Boston

Nevermind

Yeah we know, getting sloshed on Martinis and killing someone on the road is acceptable, but smoking a joint on your couch isnt.

Jimmy cracker

Because all the bars and strip clubs aren't sleazy... when did church and state become one again anyways? Why is a Christian leader giving opinions? ???isn't that a little biased?

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