We are less than a month away from the June 5th California Primary and one of the most controversial issues on the ballot in Kern County is Measure G. The initiative would limit where medical marijuana dispensaries can operate in Kern County.
There are more than two dozen pot shops in Kern County. But if voters pass Measure G, most of those shops would have to close up and move to the outskirts of the county.
Medical marijuana advocates have produced multiple TV commercials trying to defeat Measure G. The initiative would limit where medical marijuana dispensaries can legally operate in Kern County.
Liz Clarke got her medical marijuana card seven years ago for glaucoma. "This is a choice and we need to accept each other for our differences. I choose not to use pharmaceuticals and it doesn't affect anybody else. It's medicine, it's not a crime," said Clarke.
If voters pass Measure G, medical marijuana dispensaries would be forced to move to industrial parts of the county.
"Measure G provides a balance making sure that patients have access to medical marijuana while making sure at the same time our children are protected and businesses are protected," said Karen Goh, 5th District Supervisor.
Under Measure G, every dispensary would have to be at least a mile away from schools, daycare enters, parks and churches. That leaves only a tiny portion of the county available for them to operate.
It includes parts of Rosamond and Mojave, Pegasus Drive near Meadows Field Airport and an unincorporated area in the far eastern part of the county.
"It will probably remove about 500 jobs from the county. It will remove tax revenues from the county and the state. It will also lead to the decay of neighborhoods where these patient associations have located and actually provided security and rehabilitating the buildings," said attorney Phil Ganong, who represents the dispensaries.
The county argues medical marijuana dispensaries create criminal activity, loitering, increased traffic, noise and litter. "Out of 23 Kern County dispensaries, there have been 59 separate incidents including 14 burglaries, child endangerment, assault and robbery," said Goh.
If voters pass Measure G, store front owners who are not within proper zones will have ten days to relocate or close down. But Ganong says it would be nearly impossible for the dispensaries to relocate.
"No landlord will rent to a patient association. Every land owner must sign a permission slip acknowledging they know what it's being used for. That makes that property a gift to the federal government to confiscate it, to just steal your property," noted Ganong.
"We're caught in between federal law and state law which are in conflict with one another. Of course landowners are supposed to obey federal, state and local laws and that's something we ourselves can not control. But what we've attempted to do is to provide a balance between access and making sure our children and our youth and our businesses are protected," said Goh.