Pot Shops now illegal in Kern County

With Measure G invalid, no zoning permit exists for medical marijuana dispensaries.
KERN COUNTY, CA - Measure G, which voters passed in 2012, allowed pot shops to operate in Kern County, but only in the outskirts and industrial parks. Lawyers for the medical marijuana dispensaries fought to operate closer to centralized business in the county. Their lawsuit got Measure G thrown out, but what first sounded like a victory for pot shops, was just the opposite.

"When the judge threw out Measure G, basically, he threw out the only ordinance that allows dispensaries to exist within the county," said Kern County Counsel Theresa Goldner.

For a business to be allowed on Kern County land, it has to have permission listed in a zoning ordinance. With Measure G now invalid, all marijuana dispensaries in Kern County are illegal.

"There are five that we know of and three on the other side of the mountains in Rosamond, and those are all not in compliance with Measure G or any existing ordinance," said Deputy County Counsel Devin Brown.

"The mere fact that you have a license or a business permit of some sort is probably meaningless," said Deputy County Counsel Charles Collins.

Within the next 30 days, Kern County counsel will ask the Board of Supervisors to decide the fate of the remaining pot shops.

"They can actually enact a new ordinance now that completely bans all of the dispensaries," said Goldner. "Another option is, the board can go back and adopt exactly the kind of ordinance Measure G was."

The board could also come up with a different ordinance on marijuana dispensaries or do nothing at all.

"Have no ordinance at all that allows dispensaries, which has the same legal effect as a ban."

If the ban on dispensaries stays, one of three things can happen to the dispensaries to shut them down: abatement, a civil lawsuit, or a criminal process since a zoning violation is a misdemeanor.

We reached out to the attorneys representing the medicinal marijuana cooperatives, but our calls were not returned Tuesday. 

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