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Bakersfield City Council to consider banning recreational marijuana sales

The Bakersfield City Council will meet Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, to discuss amending existing marijuana rules (KBAK/KBFX photo/file) 

The Bakersfield City Council on Wednesday will consider a draft ordinance that would ban the sale of recreational marijuana within the city limits.

The city already bans the sale of medical marijuana, but on Jan. 1 the state will begin allowing the sale of recreational pot. The proposed changes to Bakersfield ordinances would extend the current ban to include the new recreational sales.

The state's permitting process for recreational sales operations will require that business owners also hold any necessary local permits, so a local ban on recreational sales will keep businesses from obtaining the necessary blessing from Sacramento.

The ordinance the council will read and consider Wednesday also broadens the definition of "marijuana" to include edibles and other products that contain THC, the psycho-active chemical in marijuana.

David Brust, of Bakersfield Residents Against Pot Shops, is optimistic the council will continue the ban.

"Our group is not against people using marijuana," he said. "What we're against are these shops that constantly come afoul of the law."

Legalizing and regulating pot shops, he said, won't do any good if the existing shops have shown total disregard for the law.

But TJ Esposito, a marijuana expert and advocate for regulation, said the status quo is not good or safe for the community.

"The all-out ban for all these years has doubled and tripled the amount of shops," he said. "Enforcing a ban is expensive, and it just isn't working."

The council, he said, needs to provide a way for business owners in the marijuana industry to run legitimate operations that consumers can trust are selling safe products.

The council will read the draft ordinance Wednesday and solicit public comment. A vote could be scheduled for a later meeting.

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