Keeping track of medical marijuana shops

But questions about medical marijuana extend far beyond that small area. 

Local furor over medical marijuana has died down over the last couple months, so you may be surprised to find there are as many pot shops as ever in Kern County. And right now, there is no way to keep track of just how many there are.

Chuck Lackey is the director of the County’s department that issues permits.

“It’s too lax,” Lackey said. “We need to definitely have better tracking of where these facilities are.”

He knows of 27 marijuana cooperatives in Kern’s unincorporated areas, but says there is no way to know if there are more.

The board of supervisors issued a temporary moratorium in August, preventing new ones from opening, but it’s impossible to know whether that is being followed.

That’s because no special permits are needed to operate a pot shop, just the same state seller’s permit every retailer must have, and that permit doesn’t identify what’s being sold.

“We’re not going to make a judgment on their ailment, their disease, their condition,” said Michael Jennings, a local medical marijuana consultant. “We’re not going to make a judgment on whether or not cannabis is helping them or they’re abusing it.”

State law says anyone with a doctor’s recommendation can get medicinal marijuana.

The district attorney’s office is investigating every cooperative in Kern County, to be sure the law, isn’t being abused.

“We think individuals have taken advantage of the law and taken advantage of individuals who may have legitimate medical issues,” said Mike Yraceburn, supervising deputy District Attorney.

While the district attorney’s office investigates, a business owner on North Chester Avenue says she is frustrated.

“Medicinally it’s legal, but federally it’s not,” said Carol Johnson, a business owner on North Chester Avenue. “I think we’re all confused about the laws and what position we should take.”

Of the 27 known in our county, four cooperatives are on North Chester Avenue.

“There are a lot here and until we have some sort of ordinance in place that changes the amount in these certain areas, then that’s what we’re going to have,” Jennings said.

Currently, just one county-wide regulation exists: a collective cannot be within 1,000 feet of a school.

On April 21, the county will hold its first public meeting to develop new regulations.

The meeting takes place at the County Administration Building located at 1115 Truxtun Avenue, 5th Floor.

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