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The unofficial holiday of '4/20' and what's next for regulating weed in Bakersfield

Medical marijuana is seen at the Green Nugget, a cannabis cooperative in Bakersfield, Calif., on April 20, 2017. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

A long-held tradition in cannabis culture is celebrating "4/20," an unofficial holiday for marijuana.

"A simple Google search will reveal that "4/20" is just a police code stating the consumption of cannabis to begin with or a bunch or people would attach it to the time a bunch of college students would come together," Alex Sanchez, a volunteer at the Green Nugget, a medical marijuana cooperative, said.

Since proposition 64 passed last November, this is the first year recreational marijuana is legal in California.

The law makes it so that adults who are over 21 can now carry, transport and use up to one ounce of week. People can also grow up to six marijuana plants from home.

However, even with the law, local cities and counties can ban the growing or marijuana outdoors and regulate any growing indoors.

Cities like Arvin have already put into place an ordinance that outlines the rules and regulations about recreational marijuana, but Bakersfield has not.

That means the city is currently following California Law.

Starting in January 2018, cultivators can legally sell marijuana after first getting licensed by the state.

"Bakersfield could still prohibit the sale or recreational marijuana if the city council so chooses," said Richard Iger, deputy city attorney.

In Bakersfield right it is also illegal to sell medical marijuana, even though medical marijuana itself is allowed.

"I know a lot of people wonder why there are so many shops, it's because as fast as I close them down they open somewhere else, it's like playing whack-a-mole, knock one down two pop up somewhere else," Iger said.

Iger said the Bakersfield City Council has the final say on what the city will do moving forward with recreational marijuana.

"I know we have a ban right now for medical, so medical is technically illegal to sell," he said.

When it comes to deciding what Bakersfield will do, Iger said, "right now we're following California Law, we've kind of put it all off to decide in one packaged approach, what were going to do big picture."

He said the city has until January 2018 to come up with something, so he guesses they will confirm their plan before the end of the year.

"I don't think that we'll take that option and just allow California Law to trump, but I don't know if California Law will be ready by January 1 anyways, the state, the bureau of marijuana control is still getting staff, and advisory committees and drafting regulations and it's already at the end of April," Iger said.

Iger said there is a lot to consider when thinking about regulations and bans.

"I think that is one of the biggest ones is driving automobiles while under the influence, there is no contemporaneous test, so you can get what people would call a false positive, I guess where if you smoked it three days before you could still test positive. That's something that everybody wants to sort out."

He also said the city will look at how marijuana shops would impact neighborhoods.

Iger said once they are getting close to rolling out the regulations, it will be brought before the city council. When it's on a meeting agenda, he encourages the community to go and voice their opinions for or against the issue.

"I would say if we allow recreational, we'll allow medicinal, it will be both or none, that would be my take," Iger said.

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