Both Bakersfield and Kern County to keep ban on sale of marijuana


Haley Duval

One of several marijuana dispensaries in Bakersfield, located on Mt. Vernon.

Laura Lanfray, Reporter

Kern County, a mostly conservative populous, has voted to keep its ban on medical and recreational marijuana in this latest Nov. 6 general election.

Last year, the Kern County Board of Supervisors voted to ban the commercial use of marijuana within the county.

This local ban included both medicinal and recreational use despite the previous year’s legalization of recreational marijuana in California and the “Compassionate Use Act of 1996.” This act allowed doctors to legally recommend marijuana to patients who suffered from diseases such as cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, or other illnesses related to chronic pain.

In an attempt to end the ban, Jeff Jarvis and Heather Epps, with the Kern Citizens for Patient Rights, petitioned for Measures J and O to be placed on the ballot. The other, Measure K, was brought about by Ben Eilenberg with The Committee for Safer Neighborhoods and Schools.

Measure J was meant to lift the ban on medical marijuana activity within Kern County but failed to pass by a “no” vote of 60.79 percent.

Measure K would have lifted the ban on recreational marijuana use in both Kern County and Bakersfield, but with a 53.01 percent “no” vote, the ban will remain.

Measure O would have lifted the ban on medical use within the city, but it was opposed 53.28 percent “no” to 46.72 percent “yes.” 

Cannabis, according to The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), is classified as a schedule I drug for having no accepted medical use and a high risk of abuse. Substances like LSD, ecstasy, and heroin share this top-tier spot on the drug chart.

Some lower-ranking, but still dangerous, schedule II drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, are on the same the same level as medically prescribed opioids like Hydrocodone (Vicodin) and Oxycodone (OxyContin) which, according to the California Opioid Overdose Surveillance Dashboard, sent just over 100 people to the hospital and killed 75 people from overdoses in Kern County and 2,196 deaths statewide in 2017, alone.

Many advocates who speak in favor of medical marijuana claim that it has helped them come clean from these opioids which can be highly addictive and potentially deadly if misused. For example, based on reports from, cannabidiol (CBD oil), has no psychoactive effect and is used to treat inflammation and pain, has been used for controlling epileptic seizures and even helping to quell other drug addictions.

The research behind the full effects of cannabis are ongoing, and even in areas with full recreational allowance, there are strict restrictions.  Anyone purchasing cannabis products must be 21 years or older and show a valid ID. A person is allowed to own no more than one ounce of marijuana at a time, and no more than six live plants kept out of public view. Smoking is only allowed in completely private quarters and out of the car, even as a passenger.

The 28 medical marijuana dispensaries currently open in Kern County are now facing the possibility of shutting down. Since the initial ban back in 2017, the dispensaries are reaching the end of their one-year grace period which granted the owners time to shut down their businesses without losing too much of their investments.

According to reports from the Bakersfield Californian, there was talk among County Supervisors that a ballot measure in favor of medical marijuana which was petitioned too late to get on the ballot during this last election will be added to the March 2020 ballot.