A proposed initiative, aimed at overturning a Kern County ban on the cultivation, processing and distribution of commercial cannabis, won’t be on the June ballot.
County Counsel Mark Nations said this week that the initiative language, presented to Kern by Riverside attorney Ben Eilenberg, was too flawed to be given a title and summary statement.
“I had some major internal problems and I couldn’t put it on the ballot,” Nations said.
Since it wasn’t revised in time for the June election, he said, he refunded Eilenberg’s filing fee and rejected the initiative.
“There is no initiative,” Nations said.
Eilenberg said he will continue to pursue it.
“It does not have summary and title but there is every intention for it to move forward on the November ballot,” he said.
Nations said to get on the ballot in November, Eilenberg simply needs to deliver the county a well-drafted initiative that Nations can properly describe in the “title and summary” — the legal description of the initiative that is provided to voters.
Eilenberg said he represents clients who are interested in the potential of Kern County to be a marijuana cultivation hub for Southern California, growing cannabis that would be imported into the larger markets to the south. The initiative he submitted was based in part on a proposed county permit-and-regulate plan submitted to the Board of Supervisors for consideration in October by the county Planning Department.
Supervisors rejected that plan, instead opting for a ban on marijuana.
Nations also said that there could be another initiative addressing the county ban that could be presented to him for the November ballot.
He said local attorney Phil Ganong told him he will be drafting an initiative that would allow medical marijuana businesses to operate in Kern County.
That will likely be similar to an initiative Ganong helped draft that would overturn the ban on medical marijuana shops in Bakersfield. That city initiative is scheduled to be on the November ballot as well.
California voters legalized adult recreational marijuana in 2016 with the passage of Proposition 64.
But that proposition allowed local jurisdictions to ban the commercial cultivation, processing and distribution of marijuana.
Both Bakersfield and the county used that provision to pass formal cannabis bans that also blocked medical marijuana operations and sales.
Kern County, since passing that ban, has entertained the idea of developing some kind of plan to permit medical marijuana sales in a limited manner.
But a committee tasked with meeting on the issue has not yet done so.
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