BAKERSFIELD, CA – The Bakersfield city council voted 4-0 this week to ban all medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, giving local law enforcement the power to close the existing dispensaries beginning in about a month.
City Attorney Ginny Gennaro says that under the ban, approved Wednesday, medical marijuana dispensaries will not be required to close overnight. Instead, the ordinance prohibits their operation in all zones of the city, from residential to industrial.
Actual enforcement of the ban, Gennaro says, will vary depending upon the situation, but investigations into dispensaries will initiated by complaints.
The city’s Code Enforcement Department will investigate the zoning violations with the aid of the Police Department.
The ordinance makes closing dispensaries a civil matter, not a criminal one, unless crimes are found to have occurred at a dispensary.
Gennaro said it is not his intention to criminally prosecute, or even issue a fine, to medical marijuana dispensaries operating in the city after the ban goes into affect. Enforcement efforts will concentrate on simply closing the business.
City officials estimate that there are about a dozen medical marijuana dispensaries currently operating in the city.
Marijuana advocates say they won’t petition against the ban because there’s not enough time and it’s too expensive, estimating it would cost between $50,o00 and $60,000 to attempt to place the measure before voters.
The California Supreme Court ruled in May that local governments can ban dispensaries from operating within their jurisdictions. Since the ruling, many cities have taken action to shutter dispensaries operating within their city limits, while others have embraced dispensaries and established guidelines allowing them to operate under municipal supervision.