Medical marijuana dispensaries in Kern County are already looking at legal loopholes to overturn Measure G. Sixty nine percent of voters in Tuesday's Primary voted yes on the measure, meaning the stores will have to move.
"What do we do? How can this happen?," said attorney Phil Ganong quoting questions he's received from both medical marijuana patients and associations.
Ganong, who has supported patient associations and their clients, says patients are stressed out and those who manage the shops are asking him what they can do.
"We're certainly looking at legal challenges and we think that there are some. We are going to be meeting next week with the general managers that want to be involved and see if they want to create a general legal expense fund and start a joint action to try and test the legality of this measure," said Ganong.
With the passing of Measure G, 23 medicinal marijuana shops will have to move to unincorporated areas. They have to be a mile away from schools, churches, public parks, daycares, and each other. Ganong doesn't think there's enough room for all of the shops to meet those requirements.
"It's going to cost the county money, some more money. It's unfortunate because the whole effect of Measure G is going to force lawful organizations that created jobs and tax revenue for local and statewide entities, improve neighborhoods in spite of some people's contentions to the contrary. It's going to drive all of that legal activity underground and probably back into organized crime," said Ganong.
And, Ganong doesn't think landlords will rent to the dispensaries because, he says, property owners will have to acknowledge that they know they are renting to a medical marijuana facility. Ganong says property owners fear that could lead to a federal seizure of the buildings. Ganong believes that is unconstitutional, violating the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. He might use that to fight and overturn the measure.
"We think the requirement of having land owners, in essence, signing a confession letter or a confession consent saying hey, this I'm going to allow a medicinal cannabis patient association to rent from me with full knowledge that that is a crime under federal law, constitutes a waiver of that right. So, in order to have a permit that is permitted by the county they are requiring a land owner to waive that Fifth Amendment right," explained Ganong.
But, he's still not happy he has to make any challenge at all.
"I guess in a way I was hopeful. It was kind of like when I saw the results last night and then woke up this morning, it was kind of like I'd lost a loved one cause in a way my pride in my community had been hurt. I don't think it's really representative of the county's view," Ganong said, noting the voter turnout for the primary. "I think it was a very clever strategic call on the part of county counsel and the Board of Supervisors. But, I don't think the war is over."
Ganong believes once the results are certified and the ordinance is adopted, that's when county officials will notify the dispensaries that they have ten days to leave.