Central California

New details revealed on two Kern County marijuana ballot measures

Voters will face a confusing ballot in November, especially when it comes to the three marijuana measures.

To help make sense of the confusion, and to bring new details on the two marijuana measures that will impact the unincorporated county, Planning and Natural Resources Department Director Lorelei Oviatt presented a new report to the supervisors that delved into the details of each measure.

Some of the details revealed how the county would be effected by the legalization of dispensaries in unincorporated county areas, which are currently banned, although possession and use have not been banned.

Oviatt recommended that a Cannabis Activity Enforcement Task Force comprised of employees from Kern County law enforcement and legal departments would need to be created to deal with the impacts of the dispensaries should either of the ballot measures pass.

The task force would cost $1.2 to $2.7 million, Oviatt said, although money from the state could be acquired to fully or partially fund the new county positions.

A team of 18 county employees from the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney, County Counsel and support staff would make up the task force.

“No identified staffing has been noted,” Oviatt said at the meeting. “So this would be new staffing.”

During the meeting, county officials also delved into which voters within Kern County would be allowed to vote on which measures.

Measure J would legalize only medical marijuana dispensaries and create a 7.5 percent tax on adjusted gross income revenue.

Measure K would legalize both recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries and create a 5 percent tax on gross receipts from retail operations. The number of dispensaries would be capped at 35. Two zones would be created along Interstate 5 north and south of Bakersfield that would contain cultivation, processing and distribution facilities for marijuana operations.

Despite the fact that both measures would allow dispensaries to be set up in unincorporated county zones, all voters in the county – including those in cities – will be able to cast votes for the measures.

Bakersfield voters will also see a third marijuana measure on the ballot, Measure O, which is similar to Measure J, but would only impact the city of Bakersfield.

So effectively, someone in Bakersfield could vote against legalizing medical marijuana dispensaries within the city, but vote in favor of legalizing those same dispensaries in the unincorporated county.

Those living in cities without their own marijuana ballot measures will still be able to vote on Measures J and K, giving incorporated city voters a voice in matters of the unincorporated county.

© 2018 The Bakersfield Californian (Bakersfield, Calif.). Visit The Bakersfield Californian at www.bakersfield.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.