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Bakersfield City Council votes: Pot shops remain illegal

The Bakersfield City Council votes against legalizing pot shops in the city on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

The Bakersfield City Council voted to ban marijuana dispensaries on Wednesday night.

This ban upholds the one the city has had in place since 2013.

Any dispensary that you see in the city is functioning illegally. However, the City's Attorney's Office has admitted it has little success in shutting down those shops.

Despite California voters deciding last fall to allow recreational marijuana, the city plans to continue to stop shops from selling the drug.

Those who are in favor of the dispensaries say by not allowing these shops to open it will allow for black market sales to grow.

"... Otherwise, you're going to have a bunch of street dealers in your neighborhood, and trust me, street dealers don't ask for IDs. They don't ask for recommendations," said local marijuana expert TJ Esposito.

Esposito also said the city is turning down millions in tax revenue by not allowing the shops to operate.

Before the meeting, the City Manager's Office told the councilmembers they need to consider cost-cutting within the city and possibly add a city sales tax.

Councilmember Willie Rivera, who voted to approve the dispensaries, said his fellow members missed a chance for the city to gain revenue to help its cause.

"Ten minutes later, we made a decision to forego a bunch of potential revenue, and we just finished a very lengthy discussion where apparently the majority of my colleagues feel it necessary to go to the voters and ask them whether they think a sales tax is appropriate," said Rivera.

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