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Board To Consider Options On Dealing With Dispensaries

Smokin Moose

Fallen Cannabis Warrior
Kern County Supervisors Will, on Tuesday, Struggle Once Again With the Tough, Many-Tentacled Problem of Medical Marijuana.

County attorney John Irby has been searching the law for a way to balance the federal government's criminal stance toward the substance and the state's laws, which treat it as a medicine.

He has found some information and a handful of options to offer supervisors.

But Irby said he can offer them no perfect solutions.

"There's not a silver bullet solution," he said.

Medical marijuana advocates say they oppose an outright ban and want responsibility for running the county ordinance removed from Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood.

Here are some of the options county attorneys will present to the board on Tuesday morning:

Remain with the status quo. The county allows medical marijuana dispensaries, but, after federal drug raids, all of them have closed. This would be a de facto ban.

Repeal its dispensary ordinance and let dispensaries open without limitations -- at their own risk.

Create an ordinance that prohibits dispensaries that do not grow their own marijuana and operate under other provisions of state law.

Regulate the location of dispensaries by making them illegal in certain areas.

Designate someone other than the sheriff to issue dispensary licenses.

There are a couple of things, Irby said, that the county probably shouldn't do:

Ban dispensaries outright, which would violate state law.

Create a "therapeutic research program" to study if marijuana has medicinal value, which would require approval of the U.S. attorney general, which is unlikely, Irby said.

He said the problem with dispensaries was that they were not growing their own marijuana, as state law intended.

Kern County might create an ordinance that restricts the dispensaries to something more like medical co-ops, rather than pot retailers, he said.

"If you have a perfect solution under state law, then maybe the feds won't bother them," Irby said.

But Doug McAfee, president of the Bakersfield chapter of pro-legalization group NORML, said even a perfect dispensary is still at risk.

"No matter what we do, there's no guarantee that the feds will" leave dispensaries alone, he said.

Rick Morse, president of the Tulare County chapter of Americans for Safe Access, said he's heartened that the county seems to be rejecting the idea of an outright ban.

"What they want to do is make sure that these dispensaries are community-oriented," Morse said. "We're trying to be good citizens here."

Now all that remains is for supervisors to address the issue at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Source: Bakersfield Californian, The (CA)
Copyright: 2007 The Bakersfield Californian
Contact: opinion@bakersfield.com
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