Council meeting: cannabis, aquatic complex, Walmart

Council meeting: cannabis, aquatic complex, Walmart By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The Ridgecrest City Council met Wednesday to discuss the latest cannabis ordinance, restricting medical and nonmedical marijuana. Council voted to waive the ordinance reading and introduce it by title only. Approval of the ordinance will be discussed at a future meeting.

While California Proposition 64 legalized the possession, use and cultivation of marijuana, it also left the option to regulate or ban the substance up to local governments. Ridgecrest’s Acting Police Chief Jed McLaughlin specified that while the ordinance would ban commercial growth and distribution of cannabis, residents are free to grow and use marijuana in their homes under California law.

During a previous council meeting where medical marijuana was the main topic of discussion, dozens of community members brought their stories to council and the community of how cannabis has helped their epilepsy, cancer and other ailments. So the primary question on most people’s minds was: where will authorized medicinal users get their product?

According to McLaughlin, once the ordinance passes, medical dispensaries will be prohibited in Ridgecrest, as well as Kern and San Bernardino counties. The closest resource will be a medical facility in California City.

But, he added, the ordinance does allow medical facilities that meet certain requirements to administer medical cannabis, and Ridgecrest Regional Hospital is one such eligible facility.

Under new state laws, which take effect Jan. 1, individual users are also allowed to grow a limited number of plants, as long as they are cultivated indoors.

The Kern County Board of Supervisors voted last week to ban cultivation and sale of marijuana in unincorporated areas of the county — including the areas outside Ridgecrest city limits in the Indian Wells Valley.

Council also heard an update from the IWV Economic Development Corporation and its consultant on the proposed aquatic center. Councilman-Hunsaker’s George Deines presented a feasibility study, which explored revenue possibilities for the facility.

Deines discussed the various potential uses of the facility which might include as many as three pools – an indoor pool for competitive, instructional and therapeutic use, an outdoor eight-lane competitive pool and an outdoor recreation pool featuring a lazy river and water slides.

IWVEDC Chair Scott O’Neil said his group is continuing to work with the firm to collect data from the public and will soon be able to “put pencil to paper and see what we can afford.”

The topic of Walmart is again generating discussion at public meetings as well.

Developer Jim Fallgatter aired his grievances during public comment that Walmart is failing to comply with some assurances it had made the city, specifically granting easements on surrounding properties.

“We believe that the city is getting bullied by Walmart into giving up improvements that are very important to the city,” said Fallgatter.

For more on these topics, see future editions of the News Review.

Pictured: IWVEDC Executive Director Scott O’Neil presents information relating to the proposed aquatic complex. Consultant George Deines is in the background. -- Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2017-11-03