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Bakersfield voters get one more choice on medical marijuana

FILE -- The Bakersfield City Council meets in September 2017. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

If you thought the medical marijuana issue was settled here in Bakersfield, guess again. A new ballot initiative means voters will decide the issue in November.

This initiative was forced onto the ballot by the voters. More than 10 percent of registered voters in Bakersfield signed a petition saying they think this is a situation where every voter deserves a voice.

"It's commonly known as the Jarvis-Epps initiative," said Bakersfield City Attorney Ginny Gennaro.

Jeff Jarvis and Heather Epps are the two original signees on the ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana in Bakersfield.

When voters step into the booths this November, they'll have the option to overturn the City Council's decision.

"If that passes in November of 2018, it will repeal the city's prohibition of medical marijuana," Gennaro said.

This would leave the city with state minimum regulations and requirements for medical marijuana dispensaries, which do no limit the number of storefronts citywide.

So is the council getting in front of this and making their own regulations? The answer is no. Not right now.

"It wouldn't really matter what the council did between now and 2018," Gennaro said. "If that passes, everything that council may have done would be repealed."

That means in their relentless battle against marijuana, the city no longer holds the power.

Now if the city does pass new regulations on medical marijuana, they would need Jarvis and Epps to pull their ballot initiative for those laws to remain in place.

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