BAKERSFIELD, CA - More medical marijuana shops are popping up in the City of Bakersfield, as Kern County cracks down on where they can exist. That may be because even though shops are banned within the city limits, the city isn't trying to kick them out.
One store opened about two weeks ago. Although it's technically against a city resolution, the city says at this point it is not shutting shops like this down because it's unclear whether it has the legal right.
"My opinion is there are too many opening up," said Janet Tackett, Manager of a Bakersfield medicinal marijuana shop.
There are dozens of medicinal marijuana shops within the Bakersfield city limits according to weedmaps.com, many set up just within the last few months
"I'm afraid that there are so many collectives and CO-OPs - whatever they want to call them - it's going to cause problems for the ones that have been here for a while," she added.
Problems is another word for complaints because, according to the city attorney, the shops are all against a city resolution and therefore illegal.
"The resolution has not been tested in the courts so the illegality is her opinion, and I'm sure we could find other attorneys that would question the legality of that resolution," said Nathan Acuna, a patient and part owner of Nature's Remedies, a medicinal marijuana shop downtown.
City Attorney Ginny Gennaro said she was too busy to speak on camera Tuesday. She did issue this statement: "If the city knows of a medical marijuana shop, we alert the police department who begins an investigation."
That has happened at Acuna's collective several times.
"We've been visited by the police department on a couple of occasions for reasons that there have been some crimes committed on cars outside," said Acuna.
Right now, police only investigate. According to Gennaro, that's because "our court system has not given clear direction on what cities can legally do or not do to regulate or ban such businesses."
In a statement, Gennaro asked that "the community be patient while we wait for clarification from the court which we hope will be this year."
Gennaro said they are waiting for the Supreme Court to decide whether or not a city has a right to. If the court decides yes, Gennaro thinks the city's current resolution is legally-binding because, "our code is a permissive code, which means that if a use is not specifically permitted, it is not allowed. So arguably, we don't need an ordinance or resolution to find a business in violation of land use. The city council, in the spirit of transparency, adopted a resolution for clarity."
Kern County Code Enforcement announced Tuesday that all but one of the original 13 pot shops in violation of Measure G have moved. Measure G requires shops to keep a certain distance between themselves, schools, and churches.
Some of those shops are fighting Measure G legally.