With the failure of all three marijuana regulation initiatives in Kern County this past election season, medical marijuana dispensaries are left questioning their next move.
Tim Blakeley uses cannabis as a healthier alternative to the medications that he could be taking for his bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“They put you on terrible medications sometimes. Sometimes the medicines you’re given hurt you more than what the illness is,” Blakeley said.
Blakeley works in public relations for Rosamond, California’s Antelope Valley Diamond Collective just across the Los Angeles County border. On the outside, the shop looks like an unassuming, blue shed. But the inside is spacious, consisting of a waiting room for people to sign in, and a show room where patients can purchase marijuana in bud form, concentrates such as wax and edibles that can be drank or chewed.
AVDC ranks as number one on the county’s legal non-conforming medicinal cannabis retail locations as of Jan. 3, 2018. This means that while they operate in a county that has a ban on the sale of cannabis, they have been established as legal in a court of law.
Blakeley and his collective wrote Proposition J with the help of attorney and medical marijuana advocate Phil Ganong and the Kern Citizens for Patients Rights organization. The initiative proposed to keep the county’s ban on recreational marijuana use and to impose a 7.5 percent business tax on the income of dispensaries that would go to the county’s general fund.
“We were hoping that would pass and it would be the easiest route so that we didn’t have to do litigation again,” Blakeley said. “We’ve been through this twice. I believe it was back in 2010 and then again in 2016, they tried to shut us down twice saying we were banned. We took it to court and won. It’s kind of like double jeopardy, we’ve already been established legal, you can’t shut us down.”
Blakeley blames the failure of the measures on too many pot props being on the ballot that ultimately split the vote as well as the measures being poorly written. He referenced the closeness in results of Measure K—52.35 percent opposed to 47.62 percent in support— and O— 52.35 percent opposed to 47.65 percent in support— as examples of the people of Kern wanting marijuana to be legalized and regulated.
“Had there not been so many cannabis measures, we know for sure cannabis would have won, which is why David Abassi currently has his ballot going to 2020,” Blakeley said. “So everyone’s kind of backing him right now because if he’s the single one on the ballot then we know that will win. That puts the county in a position where they either come up with a plan or they go to elections again.”
Abbasi is the president of the Central Valley Cannabis Association and at one time operated three Green Cross Co. dispensaries before being shut down. While the storefronts are closed, Abbasi’s organization is now focused on political and legal action.
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Published: December 19, 2018
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News