Kern County supervisors ban all commercial cannabis activity

    The Kern County Board of Supervisors meets Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, in Bakersfield, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX photo/Jeff Platt)

    Kern County will not allow shops to sell marijuana for any use, medicinal or recreational.

    The county supervisors voted Tuesday 4-1 to prohibit commercial cannabis activity, including cultivation. Supervisor Leticia Perez was the dissenting vote.

    California voters approved Proposition 64 last November, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. Medicinal use was already legal in the state.

    In January, cultivators can begin to legally sell marijuana for recreational use after first getting licensed by the state. But, cities and counties have the power to locally ban such activity.

    The supervisors considered four routes:

    • an outright ban, which is what they ultimately went for;
    • a temporary ban, followed by the issue on the June ballot;
    • regulation and taxation;
    • and only allowing medicinal sales in industrial zones at least 1,500 feet away from churches.

    County planning commissioners recommended the regulation route. Lorelei Oviatt, director of county planning, said the tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales would be more than $30 million each year, plus a couple million more in sales and property taxes.

    Right now, the county has 28 legal dispensaries. They will have up to a year to recoup their investments, then they will have to shut their doors.

    As for the 120 illegal dispensaries, the state will help enforce the ban.

    "There's $54 million that the state is going to be giving to these agencies to implement the law," said Oviatt. "This makes us on par now."

    Communities within Kern County -- such as Bakersfield, Tehachapi, Taft and Ridgecrest -- have also chosen to prohibit commercial cannabis activity.

    Marijuana industry insiders now say they're going to put together their own ordinance and appeal this decision. If they get enough signatures, the supervisors either need to make it a law or put it on the ballot.

    That will likely happen in June, with the county putting their own countermeasure on the ballot.

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