It’s understandable that voters may be a bit hazy about the three local marijuana measures on the November ballot.
Let’s make it easy. Vote NO on all three.
Measure J and Measure K call for the adoption of Kern County ordinances. Measure O calls for the adoption of a Bakersfield City ordinance that would apply specifically within the city’s boundaries. Bakersfield city residents will have ballots containing all three measures, because, after all, they are both city and county residents. The ballots given to voters who live outside Bakersfield will contain only Measures J and K.
Measure J and Measure O propose to overturn bans Kern County supervisors and Bakersfield City Council members placed on the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries. While Measures J and O would keep the doors of medical marijuana dispensaries open, they would continue to ban the operation of recreational marijuana dispensaries in Bakersfield and unincorporated areas of Kern County.
Measure K would create a county ordinance to allow and regulate the operation of commercial medicinal and adult-use cannabis retailing, testing, cultivation, processing, packaging and distributing in two sprawling designated unincorporated areas of the county near Interstate 5.
When California voters in 2016 passed Proposition 64, which legalized recreational use of marijuana, or cannabis products, many regulators and industry observers generally agreed that the state was ill-equipped for the expected demand. The California market for weed was expected to dwarf all the other state’s with similar laws. The prediction hasn’t disappointed.
California has scrambled to develop and enforce a licensing and inspection program. A black market has exploded in the sale of California-cultivated marijuana to other states. And the federal government has sat back pretending we are living in Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” world – threatening to enforce old prohibitions on use, cultivation and sale of marijuana.
The prohibition extends to federal banking rules, which are leaving a crazy, wealthy industry that has one foot in the dark world of crime on a cash basis. What could possibly go wrong?
As for the medicinal use of marijuana, many benefits are evident but the prescription process is a joke. The problem is not requiring the industry, its promoters or its users to prove efficacy, it is in having customers prove genuine need. A friendly healthcare provider can be all too willing to write a “prescription” that really is more for recreational use than medical need.
Proposition 64 passed statewide by a margin of 57.1 percent to 42.9 percent of the vote. But in Kern County, the initiative failed by a 53.7 percent to 46.3 percent margin. Kern County voters did not necessarily reject allowing marijuana for recreation purposes; they demonstrated that they did not believe California was ready for the chaos we now are seeing.
Until California gets its regulatory act together and until the federal government gets its collective heads out of the ancient past, Kern County and Bakersfield should follow a cautious path.
Leave the Kern County and Bakersfield City bans on medical marijuana dispensaries in place. And reject the proposal to create large green waves of weed islands on Kern’s west side.